Smoke is still rising from the ashes at Mohawk Airport where a fire has completely destroyed an air hangar.
Fire crews were called at to the airport at about 11 p.m. Thursday night.
Planes, equipment and other vehicles inside the building have all been lost in the blaze.
“By the time you do the building, and all the planes, all the vehicles, all the equipment they had in there… We’re talking tens of millions of dollars,” says Mohawk Fire Chief Scott Maracle.
Fire officials say when crews arrived on scene, the building was engulfed in flames.
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The hangar was built in 1943, and because of its wartime architecture, it was designed to burn quickly.
“It’s a WWII-era building — all big, heavy timber,” says Maracle.
“So there was nothing for us to do other than to surround and ground. As you can see, there’s the results from how bad the fire was.”
Heavy winds were in the forecast Thursday night and Friday, and those winds played a factor in fighting the blaze.
“Strong northeast winds last night did not help,” says Maracle.
“The winds pretty much fuelled the fire, and made it that much tougher to fight.”
The hangar was being used by First Nations Technical Institute, a post-secondary school for Indigenous students.
The school had just purchased five new planes that have now been destroyed.
School officials say the program will need to be adapt.
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“In the meantime, our students are doing their academics, and will continue that part of the aviation,” says Suzanne Brant, FNTI President.
“We will work with some partners to hopefully get some students back in the air flying.”
Shock and grief are the emotions that staff at FNTI say they’re faced with, as they deal with the tragic loss.
But they plan to remain resilient, saying it’s time now to start over.
“We will rebuild,” says Brant.
“We’re already getting a lot of interest and support from all across Canada. We will work very rapidly to rebuild.”
Fire crews have now left the scene, and plan to return on Saturday to start clearing the debris away.