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Thousands allowed back home, but officials say wildfires still leaving many displaced

Evacuation orders lifted in B.C., Alberta, weather helping in Quebec
Crews work on a controlled burn near Edson, Alta., in a Tuesday, June 13, 2023, handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Government of Alberta Fire Service

People in parts of Alberta and British Columbia are returning home after wildfire evacuation orders were lifted Thursday.

Thanks to recent rain and favourable winds, roughly 2,000 residents from Tumbler Ridge, B.C., were allowed to return home.

An evacuation order was also lifted for the town of Edson, Alta., and surrounding area, allowing more than 8,000 to return.

The ending of the order in Alberta comes six days after flames jumped fireguards outside the town 200 kilometres west of Edmonton and forced residents to get out.

A statement on Edson’s website says residents should remain ready to leave with four hours’ notice, and an evacuation alert status will remain in place.

Federal Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair says many people in Alberta, B.C. and Quebec have been able to return home, but thousands remain displaced due to fires across the country.

Blair says rain and cooler weather have helped improve the fire situation significantly in the Maritimes and parts of Quebec, but that’s not the case everywhere.

“The hot, dry and windy conditions in parts of Western Canada and in Ontario are exacerbating an already dangerous set of circumstances, and we know the peak of the wildfire season may still be several weeks away,” he said Thursday.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre was reporting 446 active fires, of which 217 are out of control. The centre was reporting 127 fires in Quebec, 83 in Alberta, 70 in British Columbia and 56 in Ontario.

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