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Hay River, N.W.T., residents can start returning on Saturday

Residents of Hay River, N.W.T., will at last be able to return home on Saturday — ending the small community's second evacuation order of the summer as crews battle nearby wildfires.

Evacuation order lifting; barricades to come down at 9 a.m. local time

Hay River N.W.T. residents board military plane, August 25, 2023

Residents of Hay River, N.W.T., will at last be able to return home on Saturday — ending the small community's second evacuation order of the summer as crews battle nearby wildfires.

Town officials confirmed Friday that the order will be lifted at 9 a.m. local time tomorrow, barring any unforeseen weather events — though they have said risks still remain due to the nearby fire.

"Crews have worked tirelessly to contain the perimeter of the fire within the community," the town said in a Facebook post.

The conditions now meet the "acceptable risk level" set by the town council, it said.

The announcement came as temperatures in Hay River sat at around 20 C, with gusting southerly winds. The weekend's weather forecast calls for hot and sunny conditions, again around 20 C.

The community of some 4,000 people on Great Slave Lake saw its first evacuation order of the summer back in May, as did nearby Kátł'odeeche First Nation Reserve. A second order followed on Aug. 13, as fires again approached both communities.

The First Nation says its residents can start returning on Sunday at 9 a.m.

It said on Facebook that transportation will be scheduled for Monday for anyone who needs it, with times to be confirmed later, and advised returning residents to bring enough food and water for at least a day or two, as services will be limited in Hay River and on the reserve for the next few days.

"No one will be left behind," the post said.

Wildfire officials said Friday that containment lines and fire breaks continue to hold throughout the Hay River Corridor and Kátł'odeeche areas. However, the 489,511-hectare fire remains out of control.

Earlier Friday morning, fire information officer Mike Westwick said weather conditions could cause fires on the east side of the Hay River to head north toward the shore of Great Slave Lake.

Westwick said officials expected to be able to fly aircraft as winds blew away the smoke hanging over the area, and that the fight continues to suppress the wildfire.

"People are not returning to a fire-free area. They are not returning to a risk-free area," Westwick on CBC Radio's The Trailbreaker.

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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