One person is deceased and others are without a home following a fatal residential fire in Fort Smith early Sunday morning.
Around 6:05 a.m. on Feb. 23, emergency crews were called out to a duplex fire at 12/14 Pike St. at the east end of town, but by the time they arrived the damage had already been been done.
“It appears the fire was well advanced, from my understanding, when the fire department got on scene,” said NWT fire marshal Chucker Dewar. “They did not conduct internal operations given the stage that the fire was at. They conducted defensive activities, so they would have sprayed water from the outside onto the inside.”
The fire was reported by one of the duplex residents, who evacuated the building shortly after calling local RCMP. They reportedly tried to alert their neighbours of the fire but did not receive any response.
Firefighters battled the flames into Sunday evening, according to Fort Smith fire chief Westly Steed.
Once the fire was extinguished, the crews located the remains of one individual in the residence.
As of Monday morning, the body had not been retrieved or identified due to safety concerns, according to a spokesperson at the chief coroner’s office.
Fort Smith RCMP, the fire marshal and the office of the chief coroner are continuing investigations into the event.
As of publication date, there was not enough evidence to conclude how the fire was ignited, Steed said, or whether the event could be deemed suspicious.
Police say the property damage is extensive. One side of the building is completely burned out with a caved-in roof, while the other was severely affected by smoke damage, leaving it uninhabitable.