Canadian evacuees head home after wildfire evacuation order ends

This photo provided by the BC Wildfire Service shows a view of the Parker Lake wildfire near Fort Nelson, B.C. on Monday, May 13, 2024. (BC Wildfire Service/The Canadian Press via AP)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Residents in the western Canadian city of Fort Nelson, British Columbia, were given permission Monday to return home after more than 4,700 were evacuated from the community for more than two weeks due to wildfires.

The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality and the Fort Nelson First Nation jointly rescinded their evacuation orders, lifting roadblocks and clearing the way for people to go home.

About 4,700 people were forced to leave their homes in Fort Nelson on May 10, when strong winds pushed the Parker Lake wildfire within a few miles of the town.

The wildfire is now classified as “being held." The BC Wildfire Service said rain on Sunday and the efforts of firefighters meant the 123-square-kilometer (47-square- mile) fire in the northeastern corner of the province was not expected to grow.

But the blaze hasn’t been extinguished and the service says it expects parts of it to continue burning into the fall.

The fire destroyed four homes and damaged six other properties in the area.

In 2023, Canada experienced a record number of wildfires that caused choking smoke in parts of the U.S. and forced more than 235,000 Canadians to evacuate their communities.