A large fire at the Innu Nation’s main office in Sheshatshiu burned for nearly two hours Wednesday evening and has “completely destroyed” the building.
Douglas Ashini, chief of the Sheshatshiu Fire Department, said the call came in shortly after 6 p.m. AT and firefighters arrived on the scene just minutes later.
“We got here, and it was already in flames,” Ashini said.
The North West River Volunteer Fire Department joined in the firefighting effort and the blaze was contained shortly after 8 p.m. AT.
“There is extensive [damage.] I think it’s destroyed, completely destroyed,” said Ashini.
Firefighters remained on the scene throughout the evening to put out hotspots.
The building was under renovation at the time of the fire, with a 25 to 30 foot extension under construction.
Donna Paddon, who handles communications for Innu Nation, told CBC News she doesn’t believe anybody was inside when the fire started.
“It’s an empty building essentially that’s being renovated,” Paddon said.
A firefighter told CBC News there was only construction materials and a photocopy machine inside.
Meanwhile, Ashini says he has no idea what started the fire, but he believes it could have started outside the building in two different places on either end.
Innu Nation Grand Chief Etienne Rich said the First Nation was upgrading and expanding its building to bring in more employees from around the community. The renovation was set to be complete by August.
“We were really looking forward to the summer for that building,” he said.