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Manitoba wildfire evacuees return home


June 28, 2016
By The Canadian Press

June 28, 2016, The Pas, Man. - About 2,000 people forced out of their homes in Manitoba last week by two forest fires have been given the green light to return.

A state of emergency was lifted on Monday in Easterville and on the Chemawawin First Nation, about 450 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

The Manitoba government says the return will be staggered over the next few days.

Officials say no structures were damaged.

Hundreds of evacuees were ordered out on Thursday when the fires crept to within half a kilometre of the communities.

Hundreds went to Winnipeg, while others opted to stay in The Pas.

The fires switched course on the weekend and started moving towards a lake. Officials were also optimistic that rain in the forecast would help quell the flames. Sprinklers were also set up.

Shawn Feely of the Canadian Red Cross, which was handling the evacuation from the reserve, said he had a positive experience with displaced residents.

''This is a very close-knit community,'' he said. ''They're supporting each other, we're working with them to ensure their needs are met and they're looking forward to going home.''

The Red Cross was working with an organization that represents northern Manitoba First Nations to put together another graduation for students from Chemawawin.

Their ceremony was cut short Thursday before they received their diplomas because of the evacuation order.

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. said a ceremony was to be held Tuesday night at the Holiday Inn Winnipeg Airport hotel.