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B.C. wildfires: Plans underway for evacuees to return to Fort Nelson

A wildfire burns outside of Fort Nelson, B.C. in May, 2024. A wildfire burns outside of Fort Nelson, B.C. in May, 2024.
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The mayor of the regional municipality that includes the evacuated community of Fort Nelson, B.C., says he's optimistic crews have "a very good handle" on the wildfire burning outside town and plans are underway for residents to return.

Rob Fraser says the first phase involved ensuring it was safe enough to move the Fort Nelson emergency operations centre back into town after it was moved as the fire threatened earlier this month, and the second phase involves utility services.

Fraser posted a video update late Tuesday saying hydro, natural gas and telecommunications crews were in town working to ensure the services are safely up and running.

The mayor of the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality says officials are working to ensure hospital and ambulance staff are ready to return.

He says they will also contact the operators of essential businesses such as grocery stores and gas stations to return ahead of about 4,700 residents.

Fraser says recent rains have helped crews battling the Parker Lake fire that forced the evacuation of the town and neighbouring Fort Nelson First Nation on May 10.

The mayor says structure protection equipment is being moved into trailers where it can be quickly redeployed if the 123-square-kilometre blaze flares up again.

An update from the BC Wildfire Service says conditions remain favourable for firefighting on Wednesday, but a "drying trend" is expected to re-emerge and continue into next weekend in the region gripped by prolonged drought.

The wildfire service dashboard showed 112 active wildfires across B.C. on Wednesday with nine classified as burning out of control, including the Parker Lake fire and another, larger blaze burning about 25 kilometres northwest of Fort Nelson.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 22, 2024. 

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