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Hundreds forced from reserve in northern Alberta by smoke allowed to return home

Meander River is about 850 km north of Edmonton (file photo)
Meander River is about 850 km north of Edmonton (file photo)

The Canadian Press

July 17, 2012 — Hundreds of people from the Dene Tha First Nation in northern Alberta are being allowed to return to their homes.

The reserve's fire chief says a voluntary evacuation order issued last week due to smoke from nearby forest fires has now been lifted.

Sidney Chambaud says air-quality tests show it is now safe for the 408 residents to return to their community at Meander River, about 850 kilometres north of Edmonton.

He says some seniors and people with chronic health conditions have been advised to remain in nearby High Level a little longer.

Another 160 residents were forced to flee Zama City last week as a fire came within 10 kilometres of their tiny hamlet.

The evacuation order remains in place, but one member per household is being allowed to return on a bus to collect essential items from homes.

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