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Fort McMurray wildfire classified as ‘being held’

Fort McMurray wildfire May 12, 2016.
Fort McMurray wildfire May 12, 2016. Paul Haysom, Global News

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. – The huge wildfire that tore through parts of Fort McMurray and northeastern Alberta is classified as being held for the first time since it became out of control in early May.

Wildfire information officer Lynn Daina said the designation means the fire is no longer growing, but is not yet under control.

“It is a big deal. It is like the happy dance day,” she said Monday.

“There has been so much and so many people on this fire — more than 2,000 at its peak working it daily.”

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READ MORE: Wood Buffalo Food Bank re-opens after Fort McMurray wildfire

The perimeter of the fire, including burned areas, covers just under 5,900 square kilometres.

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Daina said it’s an important day for firefighters who have been battling the blaze for weeks.

She said their hard work combined with recent rainy weather and high humidity contributed to checking the fire’s growth.

The change in status comes as things slowly begin to return to normal in Fort McMurray. On Monday, garbage and recycling collection returned to a normal schedule. Yard waste collection also resumed.

A temporary transit schedule is being set up in Fort McMurray between Timberlea, Thickwood, downtown and the airport.

READ MORE: First commercial flight back to Fort McMurray touches down Friday morning

The fire ban for parts of northern Alberta was amended Monday. The fire ban no longer applies to cities, town, villages, summer villages or federal lands in northeastern Alberta.

A fire ban in still in place for Alberta’s Forest Protection Area in the Fort McMurray Forest Area and northern portions of the Lac La Biche Forest Area. All counties, municipal districts and special areas, as well as provincial parks and recreation areas remain under a fire ban.

Thousands of residents have been returning to Fort McMurray this month after being forced to flee on May 3.

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Visit the government of Alberta’s website for the very latest information on the wildfire status across Alberta and the current fire ban situation.

You can also download the Alberta Wildfire app for Android and Apple for real-time.

With files from Caley Ramsay, Global News.