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There’s no timeline for when thousands of residents in Mackenzie County in northern Alberta forced out by wildfires can return home, Reeve Josh Knelsen said Friday (June 21), according to CBC News.

“Right now we want to make sure that everyone is safe and it’s safe to go home before allowing anyone to come back,” Knelsen said.

Officials are trying to avoid a situation where people return only to be told a few days later they have to leave again, he said.

Seniors at two lodges in La Crête and Fort Vermilion were evacuated from their homes and invited to return only to be evacuated a second time, Knelsen said.

“It takes a toll.”

He acknowledged residents are frustrated by not knowing when they can return to gardens, livestock and farms that need tending, he said.

The out-of-control Chuckegg Creek fire is the largest of the seven active wildfires in the High Level forest area. It is now approximately 331,000 hectares (817,918 acres) in size, with the perimeter of the fire measuring 539 kilometres (334 miles), Leslie Lozinski, information officer with Alberta Wildfire said Friday.

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