Residents of Slave Lake will begin returning to their community after being forced from their homes in the wake of massive forest fires.



According to the government, a local state of emergency remains in place and RCMP will continue to operate roadblocks, turning back anybody that is not cleared to enter.



“This is not a general call for people to return to our community - we still have a tremendous amount of work to do between now and then,” said Slave Lake mayor, Karina Pillay-Kinnee.



The town's Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has determined that safety criteria have been met and a phased re-entry into the community can begin.



The plan allows for essential service workers and their families to return home, including health care providers, utility and fire service personnel, as well as local government and community officials.



If that goes well, staff from businesses such as banks and grocery stores will be able to return Thursday, while residents will be able to go home on Friday - as long as there are no problems.



Pillay-Kinnee says cleanup and repair crews have been working non-stop, and power and utility workers are ready to start reconnecting services.

-with files from The Canadian Press