Hay River, N.W.T., residents can start returning on Saturday

Residents of Hay River, N.W.T., will at last be able to return home on Saturday.

Town officials confirmed Friday that plans to lift the evacuation order will become a reality at 9 a.m. local time tomorrow, barring any unforeseen weather events — though officials have said risks still remain due to the nearby wildfire.

“Crews have worked tirelessly to contain the perimeter of the fire within the community,” the town said in a Facebook post on Friday.

The conditions now meet the “acceptable risk level” set by the town council, it said. 

The announcement came as temperatures in Hay River sat at around 20 C, with gusting south winds. The weekend’s weather forecast calls for hot and sunny conditions, again around 20 C.

The move paves the way for the possible re-opening of Kátł’odeeche First Nation on Sunday or Monday, and Fort Smith on Monday.

Earlier this morning, fire information officer Mike Westwick said weather conditions could cause fires on the east side of the Hay River to head north toward the shore of Great Slave Lake.

Westwick said officials expected to be able to fly aircraft as winds blew away the smoke hanging over the area, and that the fight continues to suppress the wildfire.

“People are not returning to a fire-free area. They are not returning to a risk-free area,” Westwick on CBC Radio’s The Trailbreaker.

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