FORT ST. JOHN -- The Evacuation Orders for the Fort Nelson area will be rescinded as of Monday at 8am. It is the news that nearly 4,700 residents have been waiting to hear.

The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality and the Fort Nelson First Nation have jointly rescinded the Evacuation Orders for Fort Nelson, Fort Nelson First Nation, Highway 77 North, Highway 97 South including 292 Subdivision. 

All evacuees can expect a notification through Voyent Alert and Evacuee Registration and Assistance tool notifications to indicate when the rescind officially comes into effect. 

The NRRM says  the Order is being lifted and it has been deemed safe to re-enter the community.

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

The regional municipality's mayor, Rob Fraser, has asked residents to be patient as they navigate what's expected to be heavy traffic on the highway between Fort Nelson and Fort St. John, where many of the evacuees have been staying. 

Mayor Fraser said, "I'm relieved. I'm optimistic, I'm a little bit sad  but mostly I'm happy that everybody's everybody's getting an opportunity to come home here.It's been a long time. I know we've all been stressed to the max doing what we can to try to get everybody home."

There are still active fires in the area. As such an Evacuation Alert will remain in effect until such time as the risk has been eliminated. 

Additionally, 4 homes and 6 structures have been lost in the initial fire and are not safe for public access. 

To ensure public safety in relation to these properties, a Prohibit Entry Order will remain in place on those properties until they have been effectively secured. 

Only property owners, their designates or other permitted personnel may enter a Prohibit Entry Order area, under permit issued by the NRRM EOC.

Emergency department services at Fort Nelson General Hospital are resuming on Monday, as community members begin to return following the Parker Lake wildfire evacuation.

Eleven patients and multi-level care residents were safely evacuated from the hospital on May 10, and relocated to other Northeast BC facilities according to their care needs.

Northern Health has been planning for a phased resumption of services to support Fort Nelson and area residents as they return to the community.

The first of these services is the hospital’s Emergency Department, which is reopening Monday morning with limited laboratory and medical imaging supports. Other departments will resume services in the weeks ahead.

An advance team of Northern Health and Fort Nelson General Hospital staff has been in the community in recent days to assess the safety and condition of the facility, and to start the process of reopening.

This involves many steps, from equipment inspections and testing and restarting the HVAC system, to re-stocking critical supplies and performing facility-wide cleaning.

As additional staff and resources return to the community, additional areas of the hospital will re-start, including public health and community services like home support, and the hospital’s multi-level care unit; in the interim, residents continue to be cared for at Rotary Manor in Dawson Creek.

Northern Health encourages returning residents to be aware that while the emergency department is open, individuals requiring hospital admission for inpatient care will temporarily continue to be transferred to other facilities in the Northeast, and that outpatient laboratory and medical imaging services are not currently available.

Northern Health will provide ongoing updates about the resumption of outpatient services and inpatient admissions, over the coming days.

NH also continues to encourage anyone who needs life-threatening emergency care (i.e. chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding) to call 9-1-1 for transport to the nearest available and appropriate facility.

For those making the move back home, here are some points to consider: 

  • Traffic will be heavy returning to Fort Nelson, so please be patient and only pass when it is safe to do so. There will be RCMP presence on the route to ensure traffic laws are being obeyed. We want everyone home safe.
  • Top up with fuel, and bring a few days of food and essential supplies as quantities may be limited until full supply has been re-established.
  • Our community will take some time to fully rebound as many business owners are returning with the general public. Please be patient as operational hours and services may be limited this coming week.