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Evacuation orders in and around Fort Nelson, B.C., lift Monday morning: mayor

Evacuation orders to lift

Residents of Fort Nelson, B.C. and the Fort Nelson First Nation will be able to return home as of 8 a.m. on Monday morning, weeks after wildfires forced thousands to evacuate.

Rob Fraser, the mayor of the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality which includes Fort Nelson, says the municipality and the First Nation will jointly rescind their evacuation orders at that time, lift roadblocks and allow people to return.

About 4,700 residents were evacuated from Fort Nelson on May 10, when strong winds pushed the Parker Lake wildfire within a few kilometres of the town

In a statement posted online, Fraser says evacuation alerts will remain in place as active wildfires are still burning in the area, meaning residents should be prepared to leave again if needed.

"I'm relieved. I'm optimistic. I'm a little bit sad. But mostly I'm happy that everybody's getting an opportunity to come home," Fraser said.

"It's been a long time, I know. We've all been stressed to the max doing what we can to try to get everybody home."

Fraser said the conditions around the region are still extremely dry and officials will need to consider the potential for more fires as the season progresses.

Officials have previously said the 123-square-kilometre Parker Lake fire destroyed four homes and damaged six other properties in the area.

Fraser said some of the damaged properties are "still extremely dangerous" and will have orders placed on them limiting access to only the property owners and anyone working for them.

Online data posted by the BC Wildfire Service shows 10 wildfires classified as out of control in the province, including the Parker Lake and Patry Creek blazes near Fort Nelson.

Many of the evacuees have been waiting out the fires in Fort St. John, about 380 kilometres to the south, and the mayor called for patience as they drive in what's expected to be heavy traffic to get home.

He said additional RCMP officers will be on the highway between Fort St. John and Fort Nelson.



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