اخبارالعرب 24-كندا:الجمعة 1 سبتمبر 2023 07:31 مساءً Residents of Yellowknife, Ndilǫ, Dettah and the Ingraham Trail will be able to go home starting at noon on Wednesday, three weeks after the territory issued an evacuation order for these communities due to an approaching wildfire.
Most essential workers will begin returning home on Monday and Tuesday, the city posted on Facebook Friday evening.
The city, along with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation issued a joint plan that included keeping all three communities under an evacuation alert starting on Wednesday.
The post said the return date is still dependent on weather conditions.
The evacuation of about 22,000 people from Yellowknife and neighbouring communities was ordered on Aug. 16. Displaced residents have found refuge across Alberta, Winnipeg, B.C., the Yukon and even further afield.
Officials announced a phased re-entry plan for Yellowknife on Aug. 28, that would see essential workers in municipal services, grocery stores and health care, among other areas, return and prepare basic services for residents.
The wildfire that caused the evacuation remains about 15 kilometres from the city and has been declared as "being held."
The boards representing all of the Yellowknife schools issued an unsigned letter to parents on Friday that said schools will not be opening by Sept. 11.
The letter was issued before the territorial government announced the date for the return to Yellowknife, and said school officials are "awaiting further information about the re-entry schedule."
Evacuation ordered Aug. 16
A wildfire between Yellowknife and Behchokǫ̀ has been burning since late June. It previously forced the evacuation of Behchokǫ̀, ultimately damaging four homes in that community and another 15 structures along the Highway 3.
In early August, the fire began encroaching upon Yellowknife. Residents along the highway played the proverbial canaries in the coal mine as officials issued alert after alert of their possible evacuation while the fire moved closer to the city's boundaries.
The fire also forced multiple closures of Highway 3.
In the weeks prior to Aug. 16, city officials gave few details of what a full-scale evacuation of the N.W.T. capital would look like, other than to say they'd work with the territorial and federal governments.
On the evening of Aug. 16, with the fire about 17 kilometres from Yellowknife, officials announced a full-scale evacuation of the territory's capital, Ndilǫ, Dettah and the Ingraham Trail. They told residents they had until noon on Aug. 18 to leave.
Residents recounted driving through bumper-to-bumper traffic along the single, two-lane highway out of town, some through heavy smoke and nearby flames.
Other communities still waiting to go home
Several communities in the N.W.T.'s South Slave region were put under evacuation orders before Yellowknife — also due to massive, nearby wildfires — including Hay River, Kátł'odeeche First Nation, Enterprise, Kakisa and Fort Smith.
People from those communities are still waiting for word on when they can go home. Several won't have homes to go back to.
With Yellowknife evacuated, about two-thirds of the N.W.T.'s population has been displaced due to wildfires.
This wildfire season is expected to be the worst on record in terms of total burn area — upwards of 3.5 million hectares so far — and financial cost.
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