Newfoundland and Labrador | With wildfires no longer spreading, Churchill Falls evacuation order lifted

(Churchill Falls, NL) A wildfire evacuation order in central Labrador ended Wednesday, allowing people to return to their homes in Churchill Falls two weeks after being told to flee.

Published at 7:26 p.m.

The fierce fires that threatened the city and nearby power plant are no longer spreading, the city said in an update on its website. And while the fires are expected to be fully contained in the coming days, officials said it is still wise to exercise caution.

“We ask everyone to remain prepared as conditions may change,” the city said.

People’s phones lit up with the evacuation order on June 19, with a message saying they had just 45 minutes to pack up and leave. A sudden change in winds had started to quickly spread a nearby wildfire toward the community, officials said.

Residents were advised to travel to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, a three-hour drive east along a remote two-lane highway.

Churchill Falls is home to about 700 people, many of whom work at the local hydroelectric plant that serves Quebec and Labrador. In total, about 750 residents and workers were evacuated from the community that night.

A small, essential crew remained at the power plant to keep it running. But last week, the fire crossed the Churchill River, which served as a natural barrier between the flames and the town. Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro evacuated its remaining employees from the plant and began operating it remotely from Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

On Wednesday, Crown Energy Corporation said it would arrange any necessary travel to bring its employees back to Churchill Falls.

“We recognize that everyone is eager to return to your homes and the close-knit community you know so well,” the utility said in a message posted on its website.



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