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Fire leaves northwestern Ont. First Nation community without health care hub

A structural fire at the Margaret Gray Nursing Station in Cat Lake First Nation on March 2, 2024 has destroyed the community's only healthcare hub. (Facebook/Kevin Sakakeesic) A structural fire at the Margaret Gray Nursing Station in Cat Lake First Nation on March 2, 2024 has destroyed the community's only healthcare hub. (Facebook/Kevin Sakakeesic)
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A remote northwestern First Nation community has lost its central access point to health care services after its only nursing station was destroyed in a fire Saturday night.

"Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding a fire at the nursing station in Cat Lake First Nation," said the Nishnawbe Aski Police Service (NAPS) in a news release Sunday.

NAPS officers received a call for service regarding a structural fire at the Margaret Gray Nursing Station just before 9:30 p.m. on March 2.

"When officers arrived, they observed smoke and visible flames coming from the community's nursing station. Officers remained at the scene and assisted community members attempting to extinguish the fire," police said.

"At 11:46 p.m., it was deemed too dangerous to continue fire suppression efforts. The building appears to be a total loss, however, no injuries were reported as a result of the fire."

Cat Lake First Nation a remote northwestern community has lost its central access point to healthcare services after its only nursing station was destroyed in a fire on March 2, 2024. (Facebook/Kevin Sakakeesic)

A loss of their only health care hub

Cat Lake is an Ojibway First Nation community located approximately 440 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay along the Albany River – the fire leaves the community's about 650 residents without access to their primary health care hub.

"I’m not sure what the immediate plans are… for access to health care for community members," said Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa on social media on Sunday.

"(Cat Lake First Nation) lost their nursing station last night due to a fire."

NAPS said the investigation into the fire is ongoing with assistance from the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal.

3 devastating fires in northwestern First Nations

This is the third major fire in First Nation communities in northwestern Ontario this year – on Jan. 25 a fire destroyed the only school in Eabametoong First Nation displacing about 300 students from kindergarten to Grade 9 then on Feb. 1 a residential fire in the remote community of Peawanuck killed two people and sent three others to the hospital.  

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