Fort McMurray wildfire: ‘The beast’ finally under control

Fire crews work the tree line in Anzac near Fort McMurray, Alta., on Saturday, June 4, 2016. On Monday, July 4, 2016 the Fort McMurray wildfire was classified as under control. Jason Franson, The Canadian Press

The massive Fort McMurray wildfire which has been burning in northeastern Alberta for more than two months has been declared under control.

Dubbed “the beast,” the Alberta government said the fire was given the new classification early Monday. Wildfire information officer Laura Stewart said firefighters have made great progress and rain over the last few weeks has helped.

“This is a really exciting day for firefighters who have been working hard for a very long time on this wildfire,” Stewart said.

READ MORE: ‘We expect weeks, if not months, fighting’ the Fort McMurray wildfire

The wildfire has burned nearly 600,000 hectares of forest since it broke out at the beginning of May.

On May 3, more than 80,000 residents were forced out of the northern Alberta community when the wildfire suddenly grew because of what an Alberta Forestry spokesperson called “very explosive conditions.”

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Many residents drove out of the city with flames dangerously close to their vehicles.

Watch below: Dramatic footage of the Fort McMurray evacuation

The wildfire destroyed about 2,400 structures.

The mandatory evacuation order was lifted at the beginning of June, when a phased re-entry of the community began. Some residents returned home to total destruction, with three Fort McMurray neighbourhoods deemed uninhabitable due to toxins.

IN PHOTOS: Fort McMurray residents return to destruction on Day 2 of re-entry

Stewart said there are about 170 firefighters and support staff still working on the fire. Given the size and scope of the wildfire, she said firefighters will continue to patrol the blaze for the “extended future.”

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“Of course the ultimate goal is complete extinguishment.”

With files from The Canadian Press. 

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