Edmonton

Sifting through rubble continues in Fort McMurray's hardest hit neighbourhoods

After an emotionally stressful day, many Fort McMurray residents will continue to search through the rubble of what they used to call home.

The fire known as 'the Beast' grew slightly on Wednesday but is almost 70 per cent contained

The devastated neighbourhood of Abasand is shown in Fort McMurray on May 13, 2016. (The Canadian Press/Jason Franson)

After an emotionally stressful day, many Fort McMurray residents will continue searching through the rubble of what they used to call home.

On Wednesday, residents of some of the hardest hit parts of the community — Abasand, Beacon Hill and Waterways — were able to return to their homes. 

That will continue today.

The visits were brief and escorted. The residents had to wear masks and long-sleeved shirts and pants. Those who lost their homes in the fire were able to direct workers to look for belongings in specific areas of the debris.

Many found nothing.

'I don't need to go through my ashes anymore'

6 years ago
Duration 0:58
Chad and Amanda Gergely returned to see the remains of their home in the Abasand neighbourhood of Fort McMurray.

Director of emergency management for the municipality, Bob Couture, said Wednesday was "an emotional day."

"Today, we reached a milestone in our re-entry program, which is ongoing. We welcomed the residents of Waterways, Abasand and Beacon Hill back to their community," he said on Wednesday.

Couture added the municipality is providing mental health support to any who need it. One hundred mental health staff are in the city. 

70 per cent contained

The fire known as "the Beast" grew slightly yesterday but is almost 70 per cent contained. It now sits at 581,956 hectares with a small portion burning in Saskatchewan. 

For some parts of the wildfire, extreme fire conditions exist.

There are 28 wildfires in total in Alberta, with eight burning out of control. 

On Tuesday, a separate wildfire forced the evacuation of 118 staff members from a Cenovus heavy oil facility near Pelican Lake. Most of the staff was evacuated using emergency vehicles but some had to be flown out by helicopter. 

By Wednesday, the fire was burning far enough away from the facility to let the company allow for the return of 44 essential workers. 

 Almost 3,000 firefighters are working on fires across Alberta. 

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