RMWB State of Emergency ends, evacuations lifted

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo has lifted the evacuation order for Abasand, Beacon Hill, Prairie Creek, and Grayling Terrace. All evacuated residents may return home immediately, and all remaining evacuation alerts and the State of Local Emergency have been lifted.

The RMWB and Alberta Wildfire said recent rainfall has allowed them to make significant progress in containing the northern edge of the out-of-control fire burning south of Fort McMurray designated MWF-017. Fireguards have been completed on the north portion of the blaze and Fort McMurray, which are expected to prevent the fire from moving closer to the regional landfill as well as Highway 63.

Land-based fire retardant has been sprayed onto the forested area along the perimeters of Abasand, Beacon Hill, Prairie Creek, and Grayling Terrace, and structural protection equipment remains in place.

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

With residents returning home, the Fort McMurray Public and Catholic School Divisions have jointly announced that all schools in their divisions will resume regular classes on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. This includes Father Beauregard, École Boréale, Good Shepherd, and Beacon Hill Public Schools. The divisions also extended their thanks to RMWB’s Emergency Management, Alberta Wildfire, and all EMS for their hard work during the recent wildfire situation.

RMWB says Highway 63 and Highway 881 are open, and traffic is flowing in both directions. Upon arriving in Fort McMurray, RCMP officers will be present at neighborhood entrances and patrolling the areas. Residents can freely enter the neighborhoods without needing to show identification.

Fire MWF-017 has not grown in the past 24 hours and the most recent mapping shows it at 19,493 hectares in size. It remains 5.5 km from the Fort McMurray landfill and 4.5 km from the junction of Highways 63 and 881.

Over 20 mm of rain has fallen on the fire in the last 24 hours, with more expected throughout today and tomorrow. There are 224 firefighters, 24 helicopters and 57 pieces of heavy equipment currently assigned to the wildfire.

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