A helicopter drops a bucket of water on the Chuckegg Creek wildfire west of High Level, Alta., in a Saturday, May 25, 2019, handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Government of Alberta, Chris Schwarz

Northern Alberta residents start returning home after evacuation due to fires

The last recorded size of the Chuckegg Creek fire near High Level was about 2,800 square kilometres

Some residents in northern Alberta have started to return home after wildfires forced them to leave their communities two weeks ago.

An evacuation order was lifted for residents of High Level, the surrounding areas of Mackenzie County and the Dene Tha’ First Nation communities of Bushe River, Meander River and Chateh.

Officials say the 4,000 people who are allowed to return home remain on evacuation alert and should be prepared to leave on short notice if conditions change.

The last recorded size of the Chuckegg Creek fire near High Level was about 2,800 square kilometres.

The Alberta government also announced that schools in the Fort Vermilion School Division will be closed for the rest of the year.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says it’s related to the wildfires and the school’s ventilation systems.

“An inspection by the school division’s insurance holder has indicated that all of the schools need to be professionally cleaned,” she said in a news release Monday.

“The safety of students is my No. 1 priority. This closure will give them one less thing to worry about and help them focus on being with their families during this difficult time.”

Another fire still has the town of Slave Lake on evacuation alert. A quickly moving wildfire in 2011 destroyed nearly one-third of that community.

Mandatory evacuation orders remain in place for Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement, some communities in the County of Northern Lights, Bigstone Cree Nation, parts of the municipal district of Opportunity, and several other hamlets and First Nations in northern Alberta.

READ MORE: High Level, Alta. fire evacuees allowed to go home

READ MORE: ‘Like burnt toast’: Wildfire destroys homes in northern Alberta

The Canadian Press


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