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Northern Ontario residents eager to return home as rain dampens forest fires

More residents are being allowed back home after rain dampened forest fires in northeastern Ontario.

Officials say the chief of Mattagami First Nation is allowing residents to return home today.

A steady drizzle Sunday brought relief to communities battling massive forest fires.

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Some areas of Kirkland Lake were deemed safe by Sunday night, a week after a raging fire came within three kilometres of the town, prompting some evacuations. Hydro crews expect to restore power to two area mines later today.

But despite the rain, hundreds of residents in Timmins, about 140 kilometres to the northwest, are still barred from their homes, cottages and campsites.

Emergency officials say conditions have improved but the crisis is far from over — and access to at-risk areas will be limited for some time.

Sprawling wildfires have ravaged rural areas outside both communities since May 20.

The wet weather has largely doused the flames, leaving wide swaths of charred and smouldering terrain that firefighters say is still dangerous.

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