Four days after it was put in place, a mandatory evacuation order for several camps and oilsands sites is being lifted.
The RMWB said that due to improved conditions north of Fort McMurray, the following areas are having their evacuations lifted:
- Suncor base plant (including ATT)
- Syncrude Mildred Lake
- Millennium Camp
- Borealis Camp
- Noralta Camp
- Hudson Camp
- Ruth Lake Camp
The facilities were originally evacuated on Monday after “The Beast” began a northern run due to high winds and low humidity. Most crews were moved north of Fort McKay to other camps, and some have been flown out of the region altogether.
The fire overtook Black Sand Lodge on Tuesday morning. However, firefighters managed to prevent damage to all other camps, despite the blaze being “on the doorstep” of Noralta Lodge the same day. Crews also worked tirelessly to preserve the Northlands Saw Mill.
At a press conference on Friday morning, Alberta Wildfire Manager Chad Morrison told reporters that the fire likely wouldn’t be posing a threat to the oilsands facilities after this week.
“Any time the fire did come close it’s actually removed a bunch of vegetation around those sites,” he said. “Once the firefighters go in and mop up the hotspots, it will actually be one of the safest places to be.”
Morrison also applauded the efforts of the Regional Emergency Operations Centre and industrial firefighters, saying their coordination assisted in securing the area. He added that cooler temperatures and higher humidity has made it easier for fire crews to get in and direct the flames away from these areas.
There’s no word yet on how soon workers will be returning to the sites to resume operations. Premier Rachel Notley said Wednesday that each company would implement their own private re-entry plan depending on their own assessment of the safety of their facilities once the mandatory evacuation order had been lifted.
If workers are returning to site from the south, the RMWB is reminding them that northbound travel on Highway 63 is still restricted to essential personnel. Workers are encouraged to contact their supervisors for transportation information.