A steady stream of traffic is flowing into Fort McMurray, nearly a month after a massive wildfire tore through the area forcing the evacuation of the entire town.
Officials cleared roadblocks to the city around six this morning, giving some residents their first look since the flames bloomed out of control.
For many, it will be a first chance to see if they’ve lost everything, or been spared by the blaze.
630 CHED reporter Brad Wisker is on the ground, and says while the flames have gone they’ve left a potent reminder lingering in the air.
“I stopped by there this morning and was stopped abruptly by RCMP that said are you sure you even want to go close, because it’s that strong. You could smell those toxins and those chemicals. They hit your nose you can feel it, I could feel it in my lungs.”
With emotions running high, firefighters have suspended a large Canadian flag over the highway to greet evacuees.
Officials are expecting up to 15,000 residents today, as they execute a phased re-entry plan.
“Zone 1,” which includes Lower Townsite, Anzac, Fort McMurray 468 First Nation, and Gregoire Lake Estates, is open for re-entry today, though officials say they won’t take a hard line turning away other residents.
That’s with the exception of Beacon Hill, Waterways, and Abasand, which have been rendered unlivable.
With heavy traffic on Highway 63, officials are asking people to drive cautiously, and the RCMP is beefing up its presence on the roads.
While power has been restored to nearly the entire municipality, returning evacuees are being asked to come prepared with a two week supply of food, water, and medicine.
- Zone 1: Lower Townsite, Anzac, Fort McMurray 468 First Nation, Gregoire Lake Estates (June 1)
- Zone 2: Parsons Creek, Stone Creek, Timberlea, Eagle Ridge, Dickinsfield (June 2)
- Zone 3: Thickwood, Wood Buffalo (June 3)
- Zone 4(a): Gregoire, Prairie Creek, Saprae Creek Estates (Friday, June 3)
- Zone 4(b): Grayling Terrace, Draper (June 4)