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High Level residents to return home

Photo courtesy of Lotti Derungs Smoke rises into the sky near Bluefish Dam, where a raven allegedly hitting a power transformer led to a forest fire. Yellowknifers witnessed an hour-long power outage as a result of the blaze.

Nearly two weeks after a wildfire forced them to evacuate, residents of High Level, Alta. are being allowed to return to their homes.

A video posted to the town's Facebook page, states the mandatory evacuation order was lifted at 10 a.m. Monday. Residents were encouraged to drive safely and take their time coming back into the community to prevent traffic.

They were also told that they would be receiving information on what steps they might need to take once they get back in their homes, such as running their taps to clear out  stagnant water and how to dispose of spoiled food.

The update is welcome news for thousands of residents of High Level, Mackenzie County and the Dene Tha’ First Nation who were evacuated nearly two weeks ago because of ongoing wildfires.

Some residents fled north to the NWT and found refuge in Hay River, including 55 evacuees from the Dene Tha’ First Nation. Many stayed with relatives and waited patiently for news that the wildfire was no longer a threat.

Appearing alongside Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, High Level Mayor Crystal McAteer told residents there would be continue to be an evacuation alert, but that "you can come home."