TORONTO — A forest fire that was barrelling through Ontario on a collision course with a small town earlier this week has been officially deemed under control, meaning thousands of people can return to their homes.
Residents are now able to go back to Red Lake, a community that was evacuated this week due to fears that it would be overtaken by the fire, according to a statement posted on Facebook by Mayor Fred Mota.
“Since the early evening of Monday, August 10th, our community has been in state of extreme uncertainty,” Mota wrote. “It has been challenging and at times very stressful for all of us. Through our resiliency as a community and with the gracious assistance of our neighbouring communities, we have overcome and endured something that could have been much worse. I personally am thankful our homes, families, and pets are all safe!”
A voluntary evacuation order was given on Monday, when the fire — dubbed RED049, or Red Lake 49 — first began to threaten the community. Since then, more than 3,500 residents had fled. Now, they are beginning to trickle back home.
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the fire is currently around 550 hectares, down from the 750 hectares it had grown to by Thursday. While not a particularly gigantic forest fire, the concern came from its proximity to Red Lake, which is around 100 kilometres from the Manitoba border.
At its peak, the fire was burning just two kilometres away from homes in Red Lake.
At 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, the ministry rescinded the Implementation Order that had restricted access to the Municipality of Red Lake.
One essential part of the firefighting battle came not from humans, but from the sky itself. A downpour of rain on Friday and Saturday helped to beat back the flames and allow firefighters to get the fire under control.
Residents returning home have been warned not to go to the fire site or interfere with firefighting activities, which may still be going on in the area.
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