Forest fires: evacuees from Fort Nelson will be able to return Monday | Forest fires in Canada

Forest fires: evacuees from Fort Nelson will be able to return Monday | Forest fires in Canada
Forest fires: evacuees from Fort Nelson will be able to return Monday | Forest fires in Canada

In its update on Sunday, Lhe mayor of the Regional Municipality of Northern RockiesRob Fraser, announced that the evacuation orders affecting the community of Fort Nelson and the Fort Nelson First Nation will be lifted Monday at 8 a.m.

Blockages on the Alaska Highway will also be lifted at 8 a.m. Monday morning.

Mayor Rob Fraser asked all residents to be patient as the only access road to Fort Nelson will be particularly busy on Monday.

He also asked all evacuees to return home with food for several days, since the stores in Fort Nelson will not all have been restocked.

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Four homes were destroyed and 10 others damaged by the Parker Lake wildfire, south of Fort Nelson, British Columbia.

Photo: via Reuters / BC WILDFIRE SERVICE

The announcement of the return is a relief for the 4,700 evacuees who left their homes in disaster, at 11 p.m. on a Friday evening.

They left with minimal luggage and ended up in a hotel room or trailer for 16 days.

Impatience was beginning to grow, while for almost a week, municipal employees, hospital staff and grocery store employees had been authorized to return to Fort Nelson to prepare for the return of the evacuees.

In a statement, Fort Nelson General Hospital said emergency services will be ready Monday as members of the community begin to return. The other departments will gradually reopen in the coming weeks.

The Fort Nelson First Nation, whose 800 members also had to evacuate on May 10, hopes to be able to return home by Tuesday.

First Nation Chief Sharleen Gale says no residences in the community burned, but cultural property may have been damaged by the fire.

A return marked by caution

The Parker Lake fire is still not under control and is still burning over 120 square kilometers.

150 firefighters are still working in the region and are also fighting a second threatening fire, to the north, which extends over 650 square kilometers, as well as 8 other fires burning in the region.

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Cooler weather conditions in northern British Columbia have given firefighters a helping hand battling the blazes, but Environment Canada is nonetheless warning of a severe thunderstorm watch for Sunday in that area.

Strong gusts, hail and heavy rain are expected.

The region will remain under evacuation alert, which means that all residents returning home must once again pack their bags in case they have to leave.

With information from Benoît Ferradini

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