Canada wildfire evacuees finally granted permission to return home

Thousands of inhabitants in Canada's Northwest Territories are returning home after a three-week wildfire evacuation order.

In mid-August, more than 20,000 residents were ordered to evacuate Yellowknife as a fire burned 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the city limits.

The order to evacuate the area was rescinded in the afternoon on Wednesday after firefighters were successful in bringing the fire under control. Many people who have been itching to get back have expressed their relief at hearing the news.

Both the checkpoint on the highway just outside of the city and the commercial planes that were previously suspended entering the city have been lifted.

On Wednesday, a "Welcome Home" sign was placed on the Yellowknife Highway near the First Nations community of Behchoko to embrace evacuees returning home.

Rebecca Alty, mayor of Yellowknife, cautioned those returning that the city "will appear somewhat different."

She stated in a video shared on social media that fire breaks had been installed in various Yellowknife neighborhoods to safeguard the city from wildfires this season and in the future. Ms. Alty added that it would take time for stores and city services to resume operations.

People have been advised to be prepared for 72 hours of independence.

On August 16, thousands departed Yellowknife via land and air, including some on military evacuation flights. Many sought refuge in adjacent Alberta and British Columbia cities and towns, staying in hotels, with friends, or camping.

Angela Canning, a Yellowknife resident, told sources that she and others applauded when they saw the "Welcome Home" sign on their drive back.

Ms. Canning had camped in Fort Providence, a community three hours south-west of Yellowknife, for seventeen days in order to comply with evacuation orders. "I don't know if I'll ever want to go camping again," she said.

At one point, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported that a handful of individuals had organized a convoy to travel through highway checkpoints into the Northwest Territories in order to disobey the evacuation order.

The police discouraged residents from carrying out their plan, and the territory's premier, Caroline Cochrane, implored evacuees to remain in their homes.

Ms. Cochrane stated at the time, "We've all been evacuated, and people are exhausted. Everyone wants to go home." It is important that people do not attempt to leave until they are called.

The fire outside of Yellowknife is still burning, but firefighters have been able to contain its most dangerous areas. While this is going on, the fires that are raging close to Fort Smith and Hay River are keeping residents from being able to return to their homes.

The declaration of a state of emergency across the entire territory will remain in effect until September 11th.

The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre reported that there were 235 wildfires burning across the Northwest Territories as of Wednesday. There were more than a thousand forest fires burning across the country of Canada.

This year has seen the most destructive wildfire season in the annals of United States history as a direct result of the dry and hotter-than-average circumstances.