Vehicle fires rise in Yellowknife, but not alarming: fire marshal

Yellowknife Fire Division respond to a fire on 49th Street. (Photo by MyTrueNorthNow.com staff.)
- Advertisement -

There were more vehicle fires in Yellowknife than in the past five years.

2020 saw Yellowknife fire services respond to 16 vehicle fires.

That’s up from 12 in 2019, and 11 in 2018. The previous peak in the past five years had been 13 vehicle fires in 2017.

In February, Yellowknife Fire Division responded to vehicle fires on back-to-back days. Both fires were extinguished by YKDFS and resulted in no injuries.

- Advertisement -

The most frequent causes of vehicle fires are cars not being properly maintained, damaged electrical cords used to plug into cars, people performing repairs on their cars without proper training, according to NWT fire marshal Chucker Dewar.

He added the numbers in 2020 aren’t out of the ordinary.

“I don’t think that the numbers of vehicle fires here explaining to me are alarming. I think it’s fairly routine to have that number of fires annually, especially in a climate like the Northwest Territories, we have harsh winters — 40 below is tough on everything,” he said.

“Vehicles age, things get tired and without the routine maintenance to see how things are performing — stuff happens over time to everything,” he added.

Arson is another cause, added Dewar. Investigating vehicle fires for arson is difficult, because most of the evidence is often burned away before the fire can be put out, said Dewar. 

- Advertisement -

If the fire was in the engine of the car, where there’s flammable liquids, or behind the dashboard, where there’s lots of electrical components, the fire marshal wouldn’t investigate.

Vehicle fires caused $175,400 in damages, 25 thousand less than the five-year average for 2015 to 2019.

Dewar said to prevent vehicle fires people should make sure they follow manufacturer’s guidelines and have their vehicle checked by a professional when required.

- Advertisement -