Ross River deals with fire

The government is sticking to protocol when considering rebuilding the Ross River Recreation Centre.

The government is sticking to protocol when considering rebuilding the Ross River Recreation Centre.

The Department of Community Services has hired a company to clean up the dangerous remains of the centre that was destroyed by fire last week, but they have not committed any funding to rebuild.

“We’ll be working with the Ross River Recreation Society,” said Karen Thompson, director of sport and recreation with the department of community services.

“But it’s a bit early to come out and say we’re going to fund a new recreation centre. There has to be a planning process and we’re a ways down the road from that yet.

“Whenever we build recreation infrastructure in communities we go through a whole planning phase. I don’t think we’re trying to delay it, but we would take the natural process.”

The blaze destroyed the ice rink, weight room and youth centre – a central part of the community.

But summer is near, said Hartling, noting the swimming pool will be OK and a long-planned basketball court will still be built.

Expediting the process is the minister’s decision, she said.

Apart from assisting with the cleanup and establishing a team – which will include a recreation consultant from Community Services, a community adviser, people from the Ross River Dena Council and the Ross River Recreation Society – there is no further commitments until something concrete is decided by the team, said Minister Archie Lang.

While Hartling said a meeting has been set, the community doesn’t know when it is supposed to meet with the department, said Verna Nukon from the Ross River Recreation Society.

The society knows they are coming to the village, but they have no idea of when, just yet, she said on Tuesday afternoon.

Rebuilding the entire centre may not be the best option, said Hartling, noting they are looking at other places in the community to take on some of the roles the rec centre played, especially it’s role as a youth centre.

In fact, the community began offering activities for youth in the Margaret Thomson Healing Centre yesterday, Nukon said.

And the biggest, most immediate concern: getting the Ross River teams to the Native Hockey Tournament on March 25-27, seems to be OK, she said.

All of the teams’ hockey equipment was in the centre when it burned but since then, multiple community and corporate organizations have donated money and equipment and Faro has offered their ice for practice.

Plus Sport Yukon has a whole lot of hockey equipment for children and youth that the community can use, said Hartling.

While the cause of the fire is unknown, the investigation showed that it started on the main floor, in the weight room, said Kevin Taylor, deputy fire marshal for the territory.

The RCMP and fire marshal have announced they assume the fire was accidental.

While some suspect wiring was discovered during the investigation, the metal building was too unsafe and damaged to go any deeper on that lead, said Taylor.

“The firefighters did a great job out there, they had great difficulty – a lot of hurdles that they had to overcome,” Taylor said. “They did the best they could.”

The fire was already well underway by the time firefighters arrived, due, in large part, to the rubber mats in the weight room, said Taylor. The temperature was close to minus 40 degrees Celsius, which caused troubles with their pump and most of all, they had a limited water supply, Taylor added.

The Ross River fire truck and potable water truck only hold about 100 gallons each and there are no hydrants in the community, he said.

Both trucks were on scene and Faro was called for more water as well, he said.

Yet despite this, firefighters were able to keep the Zamboni shed, propane tanks, swimming pool and overhead electrical lines with joining transformers protected despite their proximity to the centre, he said.

While the community has brand-new equipment, the lack of water and the need for a little bit more training were both identified as lessons to be learned from this, said Taylor.

“But by the time the fire was discovered, it was a well, deep-seated fire,” he said. “It had already taken off to the point where it would be difficult for any fire department to battle and get the upper hand on.”

Predicted damages are in the $5-million range, said Taylor.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

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

Just Posted

The Yukon Department of Education building in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. Advocates are calling on the Department of Education to reverse their redefinition of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that led to 138 students losing the program this year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Advocates call redefinition of IEPs “hugely concerning,” call for reversal

At least 138 students were moved off the learning plans this year

Medical lab technologist Angela Jantz receives her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Whitehorse hospital on Jan. 13. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Online booking system for Moderna vaccine opens as mobile teams prepare to visit communities

“The goal is to protect everyone and stop the spread of COVID-19”


Wyatt’s World for Jan. 15, 2021

Zhùr, the ancient wolf pup found mummified in permafrost at Last Chance Creek mine in July 2016. (Government of Yukon/Submitted)
‘Mummy’ wolf pup unearthed in permafrost paints a picture of ice age ancestors

Zhùr is the best preserved and most complete mummy of an ancient wolf found to date.

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21, 2020. Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive up to $20,000 to help recover from losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Details released on relief funding for tourism and culture non-profits

Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive… Continue reading

Mayo-Tatchun MLA Don Hutton won’t be runing for re-election. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Mayo-Tatchun MLA won’t run for re-election

Liberal MLA Don Hutton won’t be running for re-election. A former wildland… Continue reading

Large quantities of a substance believed to be cocaine, a large amount of cash, several cells phones and a vehicle were all seized after RCMP searched a Whistle Bend home on Jan. 6. (Photo courtesy RCMP)
Seven arrested after drug trafficking search

RCMP seized drugs, money from Whistle Bend residence on Jan. 6

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read