June 15, 2016 11:33 pm
Updated: June 15, 2016 11:38 pm

Fire ban lifted in and around Fort McMurray area

WATCH ABOVE: Global News' ongoing coverage of the Fort McMurray wildfire.

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Fort McMurray reached a symbolically-important milestone Wednesday as it rebuilds from the massive wildfire that tore through it last month. Wood Buffalo officials announced a fire ban prohibiting all outside fires in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo had been lifted.

On Tuesday, Alberta Forestry lifted a fire ban for “the Fort McMurray Forest Area.”

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The wildfire, which forced about 80,000 people from their homes and destroyed about 2,400 buildings, now covers almost 590,000 hectares but is being “held” according to officials.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire classified as ‘being held’

Despite the fire ban being lifted, residents are asked to continue to exercise caution and to call 911 if they see ay smoke or signs of a possible fire within Fort McMurray. If citizens spot a forest fire outside the city, they’re asked to call 310-FIRE.

Fire permits are still needed for all burning and information about fire permits is available online.

People looking to secure a free permit outside of the “Urban Service Area of Fort McMurray” are asked to contact the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry office at 780-743-7125.

On Wednesday evening, Wood Buffalo officials described the wildfire hazard for the Fort McMurray forest area as “low.”

On Wednesday, officials also announced new security measures were being implemented in order to protect properties in the hard-hit communities of Abasand, Beacon Hill and Waterways. The three communities are considered restricted areas because high levels of toxins have been detected there rendering the area to be uninhabitable, at least for now.

Bob Couture, director of the Regional Emergency Operations Centre, tweeted a video in which he said security bands would be issued at security checkpoints in the neighbourhoods.

“This band will be issued by security staff at the site and security staff on site will be members of the RCMP who will patrol your neighbourhood to keep it safe and secure.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray residents pack Wood Buffalo council chambers at heated meeting

On Tuesday evening, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo council met in Fort McMurray for the first time since the wildfire forced them out of the city, and hundreds of residents showed up, many of who raised concerns about both the evacuation and recovery efforts.

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