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Boxing Day fire closes museum
Fire crews contain blaze, water damage kept to a minimum

Kevin Allerston
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Flames and smoke were rising from a chimney on the roof of the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre when fire crews arrived early Boxing Day morning.

NNSL photo/graphic

The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre is closed until further notice after a emergency crews responded to a chimney fire above the Museum Cafe early in the morning on Boxing Day. - Kevin Allerston/NNSL Photo

The two-hour fire, reported at 6:32 a.m., was located in a museum chimney above the Museum Cafe. Initial findings from the Yellowknife fire department focus on an overheated boiler exhaust chimney igniting "the wood ceiling covering in void space of the cafe kitchen on the second floor," according to a city press release.

Nobody was in the building at the time the call was made, according to Julia Mott, senior adviser with the Department of Education, Culture and Employment. The museum is closed until further notice.

We don't have a lot of detail yet. The situation is being evaluated," said Mott.

"All the emergency response procedures were followed efficiently," she said. "The fire department did a really good job at the scene and now we are just assessing the situation and we will let people know when we are open again."

Mott said the biggest concern is the possibility of water damage, but said she visited the centre and praised emergency responders and cleanup crews for the job they were doing.

"The cleanup crews are in the museum doing an excellent job of sucking up the water from the carpet," Mott said.

Mott said she is hopeful that the exhibits and collections were not damaged as emergency crews contained the fire to the chimney area.

"Until the cleanup crews are finished their work we won't be able to fully assess the situation. So hopefully, the exhibits and the collection will not be damaged, but we have to wait to find that out," she said.

"Obviously we have to take every precaution to make sure the building and the collection is all safely managed and we will let people know as soon as possible when the museum will be open again," said Mott.

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