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Weather improving: Some Ontario fire evacuees staying in Regina heading home

Canadian Armed Forces members help load evacuees on to a plane as smoke from a forest fire fills the sky near Pikangikum First Nation, Ont. in this undated handout photo. Residents of a First Nation threatened by a growing forest fire in northwestern Ontario began arriving in Regina on Thursday after the Saskatchewan government offered to host the evacuees. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Canadian Armed Forces *MANDATORY CREDIT*

REGINA — Some evacuees who were put up in Regina when they were forced to flee a wildfire in northwestern Ontario are heading home.

Last week, Saskatchewan agreed to welcome about one-quarter of roughly 2,000 members from the Pikangikum First Nation as a forest fire raged near their community.

Rain in the last few days has helped fightfighting crews gain ground on what had been a blaze that covered about 450 square kilometres.

A spokesman for Saskatchewan’s public safety agency said about 35 people flew back to their home on Tuesday.

Duane McKay said three or four more flights were planned for Wednesday.

He said there hadn’t been official word allowing evacuees staying at the University of Regina to return.

“(We’ve been) working closely with the local leadership in Ontario, but also with staff that they have sent out here who know the community, know the families,” McKay said in a conference call.

“They’re identifying people that would be better supported (and) better served there.”

Between 200 and 300 evacuees were to remain at the university for the time being, so activities were being planned for the next few days, including sports and a powwow.

“I think everybody’s very anxious to get home,” McKay said. (CJME)

The Canadian Press