Residents from several northern communities who were forced to flee earlier this month due to wildfires are returning home.

The evacuation orders for Buffalo Narrows and Île-à-la-Crosse were removed on Wednesday, and residents have now begun to return home from evacuation shelters in Regina and Lloydminster. Both communities had originally declared a local state of emergency and issued evacuation orders on May 16. Some elderly residents, families with kids under the age of five, and those with chronic health issues in those communities will be staying behind. The state of emergency for Buffalo Narrows will remain in effect until Sunday, with the possibility of an extension.

Some Buffalo River Dene Nation evacuees have also been given the green light to return home, though individuals with severe health concerns and senior citizens will also be staying behind and remaining in evacuation shelters.

Approximately 230 inhabitants of Hall Lake have been given permission to return home after being evacuated on May 16 due to heavy smoke from the nearby Wistigo” fire.

There are currently 24 active wildfires in the province, including the “Shaw” fire, the biggest fire in the province, which has burned more than 133,000 hectares.