Fort Nelson wildfire evacuees could return next week, says mayor

The mayor of the regional municipality that includes Fort Nelson, B.C., which was evacuated due to a threatening wildfire, says local officials are pushing for a Monday or Tuesday deadline to start allowing about 4,700 residents home after nearly two weeks.

Rob Fraser says the “imminent risk” posed by the Parker Lake fire has been reduced, and officials are focused on rolling out a phased approach to residents’ return.

He said in a video posted late Wednesday that some doctors had returned to the community along with grocery staff who were restocking shelves.

Fraser says water, hydro and hydroelectric services were operational, and crews with FortisBC were in town examining the natural gas company’s infrastructure.

The mayor of the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality says officials were planning to reach out to the operators of “phase three” businesses this weekend.

Fraser says he was “extremely happy” to start thinking about an end date to the evacuation that began on May 10 as strong winds pushed the Parker Lake blaze to within about two kilometres of Fort Nelson.

At a press conference Thursday, B.C. Premier David Eby said he’s hopeful residents will be returning soon, and the province is working with local government to support those who have lost homes or other buildings in the fires.

He also extended thanks to front-line responders who kept the fires away from the town, and said the success is an example of what’s possible when provincial, local and First Nations governments work together.

“There was a period of time there where the entire town of Fort Nelson could have burnt down, and Fort Nelson First Nation, but for the efforts of our amazing fire crews — and we’re not out of the woods yet, we have a long fire season ahead — but it could have been a lot worse.”


Posted in CBC