Hundreds forced from reserve by smoke allowed to return home

Hundreds of people from the Dene Tha’ First Nation in northern Alberta are being allowed to return to their homes. The reserve’s fire chief says a voluntary evacuation order issued last week due to smoke from nearby forest fires has been lifted.

MEANDER RIVER — Hundreds of people from the Dene Tha’ First Nation in northern Alberta are being allowed to return to their homes.

The reserve’s fire chief says a voluntary evacuation order issued last week due to smoke from nearby forest fires has been lifted.

Sidney Chambaud says air-quality tests show it is now safe for the 408 residents to return to their community at Meander River, about 850 kilometres north of Edmonton.

He says some seniors and those with chronic health conditions have been advised to remain in nearby High Level awhile longer.

Another 160 residents were forced to flee Zama City last week as a fire came within 10 kilometres of their tiny hamlet.

The evacuation order remains in place, but today one member per household is being allowed to return on a bus to collect essential items from homes.

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