One person has been confirmed deceased and two others are still unaccounted for after a devastating house fire Wednesday evening in Pikangikum First Nation, located more than 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay. An investigation is currently underway.
The fire broke out on the evening of February 22, 2023. Cold weather caused mechanical issues with both of the community fire trucks preventing Pikangikum Peacekeepers from dousing the fire.
“Our community is devastated to have yet another loss due to a horrific house fire. It was almost seven years ago that we lost a family to a fire in our community. We should not be experiencing this again,” said Chief Shirley Lynne Keeper. “We have never felt so hopeless. Our ability to fight structural fires has not improved since 2016. Our fire trucks were frozen because we don’t have an adequate building to keep them warm.”
On March 29, 2016, a house fire claimed the lives of a family of nine in Pikangikum including an infant. Many community members lost family. Chief Keeper stated, “This has affected us greatly. We never wanted to see this happen again. The government’s response to date has been unacceptable. No more words, we need action from the government to provide proper fire services in our community of 4,000 people.”
Chief Keeper added, “We are still investigating this tragic fire and we ask everyone to pray for the family and our community.”