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Woman charged with arson after Manitoba nursing station destroyed

The Chemawawin Nursing Station is shown engulfed in flames on June 24, 2024. (John Walker) The Chemawawin Nursing Station is shown engulfed in flames on June 24, 2024. (John Walker)
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The nursing station in a northern Manitoba community is a complete loss after a fire tore through the facility early Monday morning.

Chemawawin RCMP responded to the structure fire at the community’s nursing station at around 5:30 a.m.

Officers arrived on scene to find the building engulfed in flames.

No injuries were reported.

Investigators deemed the cause to be incendiary.

Police arrested and charged a 20-year-old woman with Arson and failure to comply with probation. She is scheduled to appear in court in The Pas. 

The charges have not been proven in court.

An investigation is ongoing.

The aftermath of a fire at the Chemawawin Nursing Station is pictured on June 24, 2024. (Manitoba RCMP)

'A huge loss'

John Walker has lived in the community his whole life.

He said this is a huge loss, as residents can't access basic medical care, which so many have relied on.

"We have a lot of members who are sick and need to see the nurses and doctors that come here. Now they don't have a facility to work out of," he told CTV News Winnipeg in an email.

"For now as a community, we just have to hope for the best for our people that everyone remains in good health."

He said the nearest nursing station is over an hour away in Grand Rapids and the nearest doctor is in The Pas, which is two hours from the community.

The Manitoba government operates the nursing stations and said it was saddened to hear of the fire.

“We are working with Chief Easter and local medical leads to ensure access to address emergency and ongoing health needs for community members are in place,” a ministerial spokesperson said in a statement.

“The nursing team remains in place to triage urgent, primary and public health needs while we work with the community to develop plans for replacing the nursing station and ambulance bay.” 

Ambulance from neighbouring community to provide coverage

Shared Health, which operates ambulance service at the nursing station, confirms an ambulance burned in the fire.

A spokesperson said in an email emergency response services staff are working to stock a spare ambulance to cover the Easterville area and expect to return to the community Monday night.

"Emergency response services in the area remain uninterrupted as staff from the Grand Rapids EMS Station are providing coverage in the interim," the spokesperson said.

Nursing station a previous target: RCMP

The nursing station was previously broken into last fall, police say.

Investigators say video surveillance showed four suspects break in early in the morning on Oct. 5 to the nursing station's ambulance bay. Minutes later, the same four suspects were captured on surveillance trying to break into the Chemawawin RCMP detachment.

After several failed attempts, they left and were seen again behind the nursing station.

They were captured again on surveillance about an hour later, leaving the nursing station with a television and other items including a small amount of prescription medication.

A short time later, they returned to the nursing station and stole a vehicle parked outside, police said.

Four suspects were later arrested in The Pas and charged with a number of theft and mischief-related charges.

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