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Kirkland Lake state of emergency lifted after forest fire

The state of emergency for the northeastern Ontario town of Kirkland Lake has been lifted.

Firefighters have been battling a large forest fire on the north edge of town for the past 10 days. The fire has been as close as three kilometres to the community of more than 9,000 people.

On Tuesday morning, the status of the fire was downgraded to “being held” as crews managed to surround the 10-kilometre-long fire with fire hose.

The lifting of the emergency order will allow people to get back to some normalcy, said Sgt. Dana McLean of Ontario Provincial Police.

“State of emergency means that things aren’t happening within the town,” she said.

“Everything sort of goes in a hold pattern. So your real estate is stalled, loans are stalled. A lot of things are stalled in the day-to-day lives of people. Now those lives can go back to normal.”

An additional 20 fire rangers are arriving in the Kirkland Lake area on Tuesday, adding to the 100 Ministry of Natural Resources workers already on the scene.

Provincial police say they have determined the fire was started by campers in a recreational area and are asking for the public’s help identifying those responsible.

The word of Kirkland Lake lifting its emergency came one day after Timmins, about 140 kilometres to the northwest, took that step.

Cooler temperatures and rain had helped dampen the forest fire about 30 kilometres away from the centre of Timmins, a city of about 43,000.

Hundreds of residents were forced to flee their homes, cottages and camps near Timmins and Kirkland Lake over the last week as the fires raged. Some have been allowed to return but many are still waiting for the all-clear.

Emergency officials have said that while conditions have improved, access to at-risk areas will likely be limited for some time.