Alberta government lifts state of emergency issued over Fort McMurray fire
The devastated neighbourhood of Timberlea in Fort McMurray Alta. is shown on Wednesday June 1, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, July 1, 2016 2:42PM EDT
EDMONTON -- A provincial state of emergency declared over a raging wildfire in northern Alberta nearly two months ago has finally been lifted.
The provincial government said the declaration was ended at midnight, though it will be replaced by a local state of emergency in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo as of Friday.
It had been initiated at 3:57 p.m. on May 4, one day after the oilsands capital of Fort McMurray was put on a mandatory evacuation order, so the province could take control of the response to the disaster.
The fire forced the displacement of about 90,000 people in the region, and destroyed about 2,400 homes and other buildings.
The evacuation order was lifted a month ago and people started returning to the community.
A provincewide state of emergency has been declared only once before in Alberta, during the floods of 2013.
"While Fort McMurray is still on the path toward recovery, our government is encouraged by the significant progress the community has made to date," Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee said in a statement.
"We are confident that a Provincial State of Emergency is no longer required in order for the municipality to continue this important work. Alberta will continue to stand with the people of Fort McMurray as they rebuild their homes and community."
The province is working with the regional municipality to monitor the impact of the wildfire on air, soil and water quality.
According to the province, the city's hospital is back to full operations and the government is working with child-care providers to help get their programs operational as quickly as possible.
The Fort McMurray Cancer Centre still isn't opened but that process is scheduled to begin July 11. A boil-water advisory remains in effect for several neighbourhoods.
The province said gas is back on in about 91 per cent of the buildings in the area, with another 2,000 yet to be hooked up.