Alberta wildfires: Residents return to Rainbow Lake Friday after 27-day evacuation

Click to play video: 'Residents return to Rainbow Lake, Alta., after wildfire'
Residents return to Rainbow Lake, Alta., after wildfire
Colin Blair, executive director of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency, said on Sunday that approximately 19,342 Albertans remained evacuated, an increase in the number due to three new evacuation orders in the past 24 hours. He said those locations were Rainbow Lake, Leduc County and Sturgeon Lake First Nation – Jun 2, 2023

Hundreds of residents from Rainbow Lake, Alta., were finally able to go home Friday morning after a mandatory evacuation order was issued 27 days ago.

Dan Fletcher, Rainbow Lake’s chief administrative officer, says re-entry is “going a lot slower than expected.”

There were no homes damaged by the fire, Fletcher confirmed.

Rainbow Lake is a town of about 700 people, located about 130 kilometres west of High Level in northern Alberta.

On May 6, an out-of-control wildfire forced residents from their homes.

Evacuees were moved to High Level, where they were met with others who had to flee Fox Lake and Chateh.

Click to play video: 'Alberta wildfires: Officials say number of evacuees grow to about 19,000'
Alberta wildfires: Officials say number of evacuees grow to about 19,000

The Long Lake Fire, as it’s called, had burned 135,483 hectares as of June 1. The fire, located in the vicinity of the Town of Rainbow Lake, is still classified as out of control, according to Alberta Wildfire.

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The town reminded people returning to drive safely as smoke can cause reduced visibility. Officials reminded people to not stop their cars to take pictures and to be mindful of other drivers on the road.

They added that the town is safe but areas around town might not be. They said not to leave the highway or town limits as some areas still have active fire areas. Many tree roots have been burned and trees continue to fall.

Click to play video: 'Northern Alberta residents flee wildfire to High Level'
Northern Alberta residents flee wildfire to High Level

Rainbow Lake asked residents to bring non-perishable groceries when returning home because any food left in the fridge or freezer would have spoiled.

Residents were told to not visit the area around the air base or fire hall because of the ongoing emergency.

If a resident suffers from respiratory issues, they are encouraged to look up “purple air Rainbow Lake” to assess the air quality and determine if it is safe to return. The town office will have some N-95 masks available for use.

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Residents are encouraged to attend a barbeque in Devonian Park at 6 p.m. on Friday.

The evacuation order was cancelled as of 10 a.m. Friday. To view all alerts visit the Alberta Emergency Alert website.

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