Alberta wildfires: Fort Chipewyan begins re-entry

Click to play video: '‘We got this’: Chipewyan Chief urges calm as wildfires rage in remote Alberta community'
‘We got this’: Chipewyan Chief urges calm as wildfires rage in remote Alberta community
Speaking from the Fort Chipewyan Airport on Wednesday, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam said he believed more than 1,000 people were evacuated along with their pets from Fort Chipewyan in Alberta. “Don’t worry about anything, we got this,” Adam said. “You guys take care, be safe out there.” – Jun 1, 2023

As wildfire season continues, Fort Chipewyan in northern Alberta said Monday that re-entry will begin this week.

The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) council confirmed on Facebook that the fire’s southern flank is 100 per cent controlled.

Alberta Wildfire’s Emily Smith said that the rest of the fire perimeter is 75 per cent controlled. As of Monday morning, the fire was marked as being held.

Re-entry will be in three phases.

On Monday essential workers were allowed to return; the overall public and land users being welcomed back Thursday; and on Saturday, vulnerable people and those with health or mobility issues can re-enter the town.

“This has been a long hard and stressful three weeks for everyone,” said Chief Billy-Joe Tuccaro of Mikisew Cree First Nations.

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On Tuesday, ACFN Chief Allan Adam spoke to Global News about the re-entry plan and said if any of his community’s wildfire evacuees remain in Fort McMurray after Saturday, “we will have to determine… what they’re doing, and probably get them home on a small fixed-wing plane, depending on how long they stay in Fort McMurray.”

“If they do stay in Fort McMurray after Saturday, it’s at their own expense,” he said, adding that while the improved situation is good news, he hopes the wildfires do not threaten his community again this summer.

“In this day and age, who knows what’s going to happen.”

Adam said he believes the ACFN has a “good fire guard” thanks to wildfire prevention and mitigation work his community has undertaken, and because fires have already burned tens of thousands of hectares of land in the area over the last two years.

He indicated the recent wildfire evacuation was difficult for the community.

“The last people to leave the community, not knowing that they would ever come back home… emotions did run high.”

The ACFN council will be hosting a telephone town hall for all evacuees on Tuesday from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Fort Chipewyan was evacuated on May 30. Four homes were damaged in the fires.

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–With files from Phil Heidenreich, Global News

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