RCMP finger youth in ‘suspicious’ Pelly fire

A blaze ripped through one of Pelly Crossing’s most important buildings early Thursday morning destroying the post office, the bank and an old…

A blaze ripped through one of Pelly Crossing’s most important buildings early Thursday morning destroying the post office, the bank and an old vacant tire shop.

By Thursday afternoon, RCMP had arrested the suspected arsonist — a 15-year-old male from the community.

He’s scheduled to face one charge of arson and disregarding human life in a Whitehorse court on Friday.

Meanwhile, the community is grappling with the effects of the destructive blaze.

“It’s a difficult situation for the community to deal with,” said Selkirk Groceries assistant manager Bob Pozzo from the store on Thursday.

Without light and heat, the store was closed to the public on Thursday, leaving Pelly residents without a place to buy food and supplies.

The store also acted as a de facto gathering place for people around town.

“It’s a community centre with chairs and benches in here — it’s a little different environment than a grocery store,” Pozzo explained.

Police were tipped off to the blaze after a passerby alerted Pozzo and another employee living in the motel at about 1 a.m. Thursday morning.

“He banged on the door and said: ‘Get out, fire!’”

Pozzo jumped out of bed ran outside and surveyed the damage.

“It was just raging like the Fourth of July,” he said.

“I looked at it at that point and thought, ‘there’s no way we’re going to save anything.’

“Had there been a wind of any kind blowing from the north, it would have blown the fire right into the fuel tanks,” he said.

A hard-fought battle by firefighters and local volunteers managed to contain the fire and save the store and motel, according to Yukon RCMP.

But the south end of the building, which houses the fuel tank, is gone.

“They knocked it down, so the water and fire crew could get closer inside the building,” said Pozzo, who was on the scene until 5 a.m.

“It’s a godsend that they got that under control.”

But the bank, post office and tire shop were not so lucky.

“They’re burnt out, gutted out and actually destroyed in the end of it — there’s nothing, nothing there,” said Pozzo.

By late Thursday afternoon, temperatures had dropped to nearly minus 40 degrees in the community, said Pozzo.

Facing a second night without heat, he was worried about the effect the cold winter temperatures were having on stockpiled in the shop and the pipes in the building’s walls.

By Friday morning, the store had power and a quick survey showed no damage from the cold.

Employees hope to open sometime during the day on Friday.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City council meeting in Whitehorse on Feb. 8. At Whitehorse city council’s March 1 meeting, members were presented with a bylaw that would repeal 10 bylaws deemed to be redundant or out of date. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Out with the old

Council considers repealing outdated bylaws

A bobcat is used to help clear snow in downtown Whitehorse on Nov. 4. According to Environment Canada, the Yukon has experienced record-breaking precipitation this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon will have “delayed spring” after heavy winter snowfall

After record levels of precipitation, cold spring will delay melt

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted online. (Black Press file)
Yukon youth being extorted online

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted on… Continue reading

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

A Housing First building on Fifth Avenue and Wood Street will be taken over by the Council of Yukon First Nations and John Howard Society later this month. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
CYFN, John Howard Society take over downtown Housing First residence

The organizations have pledged culturally appropriate service for its many Indigenous residents

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

Most Read