A fire has destroyed an apartment complex under construction in Labrador City and forced the evacuation of a neighbouring hospital.
The fire was first reported at approximately 3 a.m. Sunday according to a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary news release, and firefighters were still stationed on Booth Avenue as of 8:30 p.m.
Labrador-Grenfell Health evacuated 16 patients from Captain William Jackman Memorial Hospital, moving its emergency services to the Salvation Army Citadel. Nine patients were taken to the citadel, while another was sent to a healthcare facility in the nearby community of Fermont, Que. The remaining patients were either medically discharged, given a day release, or released to family.
The apartment building housed 108 units.
Mayor Karen Oldford received news of the fire when it was first reported in the community. She said firefighters were focusing their efforts on protecting the hospital, given the apartment building was beyond saving.
The loss of the unoccupied apartment complex is a significant one for the community, according to the mayor.
“Labrador West is experiencing exponential growth, and shortage of housing is one of the things we’ve been combatting now for quite some time, and it’s something we’re working on very hard as a region,” said Oldford.
“This apartment building was going to be 108 units for families that were coming to live in our area and work with the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC). It’s a very significant loss.”
She added that the timing of the fire was inopportune, given the sprinkler system was not operational.
“The sprinklers were due to be hooked up this week,” she said.
A spokesman for Labrador-Grenfell Health confirmed to The Telegram that the hospital would not be reopening Sunday evening. The health authority has advised people requiring emergency care to either call 911 or come to the Salvation Army Citadel.
All other people requiring medical attention were being asked to go to the health-care facility in Fermont. Directions to that site are available on the Labrador-Grenfell Health website at www.lghealth.ca.