Evacuees begin returning to Fort McMurray and area
June 1, 2016. Calling the return of the first set of Fort McMurray evacuees on Wednesday “a new chapter,” Wildrose Leader Brian Jean and Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Tany Yao were on hand to provide support. In a statement, they said, ““It was just under a month ago that flames engulfed our town, where neighbours watched as flames trickled across their roofs and saw embers rain down. We saw great acts of heroism from our first responders, putting their lives on the line to protect our city and our people. Across Alberta we saw communities rally to protect all evacuees, suddenly made homeless…. The challenges are not over, we will require a new kind of courage and heroism as we survey the damage and rebuild our lives.” Billboards leading into the city read “Safe Resilient Together” and “We Are Here. We Are Strong” and a huge Canadian flag hung between the extended ladders of two fire trucks parked on a bridge over the road. People living in the Lower Townsite, Anzac, Fort McMurray First Nation and Gregoire Lake Estates were allowed to return yesterday and about 7,500 made the trip. Other Fort McMurray residents will return in voluntary phased-in re-entry over the next three days. The fire destroyed 2,400 structures, nearly 10 per cent of the city, and contaminants have made a further 567 homes inhabitable at this point. Jean lost his home in the wildfire that forced a mass evacuation of the community on May 3.