Evacuation order for Fort McMurray ends, residents can return home

By Alejandro Melgar

Thousands of Fort McMurray residents can breathe a sigh of relief as they are able to return home due to the evacuation order being lifted, along with the state of local emergency and all remaining evacuation alerts.

This comes as wildfire crews have reported no further growth in the wildfire that continues to burn southwest of Fort McMurray.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Alberta Wildfire called for residents of Abasand, Beacon Hill, Prairie Creek, and Grayling Terrace to return home at around 10 a.m.

They say this is due to rain reducing the intensity of the wildfire, the completed construction of fireguards at the northern edge of the fire and Fort McMurray, and structure protection in place and land-based fire retardant in the forested areas that border the evacuated neighbourhoods.

“We are so pleased to be able to welcome people home and have them return home, safely,” said Mayor Sandy Bowman in a news release.

“We thank everyone that was evacuated this week for their patience, resolve, and strength, and we look forward to seeing all of you. While there is more work to be done, I want to express my deepest appreciation to all those that played such a critical role in protecting our community, keeping people safe and supporting evacuees, while being there for each other.”

Emergency social services, including food and accommodation, will remain in place until 12 p.m. Sunday, and evacuee registration is now closed.

Wood Buffalo says Highway 63 and Highway 881 are now open in both directions, and Mounties will be present at neighbourhood entrances and patrolling the areas.

“Residents can freely enter the neighbourhoods without needing to show identification,” the notice reads.

The Evacuation Alert has also been lifted for Fort McMurray, Draper, Saprae Creek, Gregoire Lake Estates, Fort McMurray First Nation 468, Anzac, and Rickards Landing Industrial Park.

About 6,600 residents of the Fort McMurray neighbourhoods were forced to leave their homes on Tuesday due to the fire classified as out of control, which remains the case at nearly 20,000 hectares Saturday.

Some evacuees from Fort McMurray are staying at the Claireview Rec Centre in North Edmonton, and Calgary has also offered to house any evacuees.

With files from The Canadian Press

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