Skip to content

Wall-mounted heater the likely cause of Kitimat Ice Rink fire

Kitimat Fire Department has concluded its investigation into the cause of a weekend fire at the Kitimat Ice Rink. Misty Johnsen photo

The Kitimat Fire and Ambulance Service has released preliminary findings from the investigation into the March 17 fire at the Kitimat Ice Rink, which suggest a malfunctioning wall-mounted heater in the Referee’s Room could have sparked the blaze.

“The information we have is still preliminary and will be thoroughly vetted through further investigation and analysis,” reads a statement from the district. The fire service is collaborating closely with insurance investigators to examine the heater closely and perform comprehensive tests.

On March 25 the district’s director of leisure services, Martin Gould, provided Kitimat council with an update on the impacts of the rink closure. Top of mind is an upcoming users meeting and whether the district will be able to have new ice ready for the start of the fall season.

“That meeting usually takes place in May,” Gould said. “We’ll meet with the major users of the facility to devise a plan that accommodates as many people as possible in both the Tamitik Area and, hopefully, the Ice Rink for the fall season.”

In the early morning of March 17 the fire originated in the facility’s referee’s room near the main entrance. The blaze was swiftly extinguished, and no injuries were reported. However there was extensive damage to the referee’s room and smoke damage throughout the building, leading to the cancellation of further programs for the season, including the Open Shinny, Public Skate, Family Stick and Puck, and the Everyone Welcome Shinny.

The rink’s closure has propelled district staff to adapt quickly, relocating programs to the Tamitik Arena to serve all spring ice users. However, some programs and commercial rentals were inevitably cancelled in the aftermath of the fire.

To mitigate the loss of the ice rink, the district has decided to extend the ice availability at the Tamitik Arena until the May long weekend. Consequently, the roller derby program will continue in the Riverlodge gymnasium. The district is exploring options for the lacrosse program, considering school gymnasiums for rainy days and outdoor fields otherwise. The youth floor hockey program may also be moved to a school venue.

The installation of a master motor control unit in the Tamitik Arena has been delayed from April to later in May.

About the Author: Quinn Bender

Read more