FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. — The huge wildfire known as "The Beast" that tore through parts of Fort McMurray and northeastern Alberta is classified as being held for the first time since it became out of control in early May.
Wildfire information officer Lynn Daina said the designation means the fire is no longer growing, but is not yet under control.
Daina said it's an important day for firefighters who have been battling the blaze for weeks.
"It is a big deal. It is like the happy dance day," she said Monday.
"There has been so much and so many people on this fire — more than 2,000 at its peak working it daily."
The perimeter of the fire, including burned areas, covers just under 5,900 square kilometres.
Daina said the work of firefighters combined with recent rainy weather and high humidity checked the fire's growth.
The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo estimates that about half of the more than 80,000 people who fled the Fort McMurray area on May 3 are back in the community after being allowed to return this month.
Mayor Melissa Blake said the fact that the fire is now being held is an important milestone.
The information will be critical to the thousands of people who are still trying to decide when to come home, she said.
"To have it move in official status from out of control to being held is the first step toward getting it completely under control and annihilated," she said.
"For me the moment of truth is it doesn't have us anymore — we have got it."
On Monday there were more signs the city was continuing to bounce back from the disaster.
The regional hospital resumed providing more services including surgeries, obstetrics, pediatric and psychiatric care that were shut down last month due to the fire.
Canada Post said it started providing mail delivery again to businesses and was planning to phase in the service to neighbourhoods later this month.
Alberta's Provincial Building reopened to provide some government services, with the provincial court to reopen next Monday.
Apartment giant Boardwalk announced that its rental properties survived the fire. The nine complexes containing 352 units have been cleaned up and are ready for tenants to move back.
Blake said she was looking forward to holding the municipality's first council meeting Tuesday in the city since the wildfire.
"I get my gavel back," Blake joked.
"We expect robust attendance. Because we are now back in the community with the citizens who are here it is going to start feeling just like normal."
— By John Cotter in Edmonton