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Owners Watched Fort McMurray Home Burn to Ground Over iPhone
An indoor security camera gave the world a haunting five-minute glimpse of one of the worst wildfires in Canadian history as it roared through a living room and the homeowner watched it burn on his mobile phone.
The video from a fixed camera in James O’Reilly’s home began with a seemingly serene shot of red walls, a brown couch and a glowing fish tank before the view turned to heavy smoke, ash and flames outside the window, the slow breaking of glass and smoke filling the room.
Traffic and weather cameras and security webcams have allowed those who fled to remotely see if their homes have been lost to the fire that has consumed at least 1,600 buildings and forced 88,000 to evacuate the city of Fort McMurray.
I was so happy we were alive, the rest was all — who cares, right?
Mr O’Reilly, 51, and his wife pulled out on Tuesday, driving through flames and ash to put distance between themselves and the inferno.
He pulled over 20 minutes outside Fort McMurray, his phone buzzing with an alarm from his in-home security system. He watched as the house was consumed by flames, live on the screen in his hand.
“My wife couldn’t watch it, but at that point I thought we were dead coming through the flames like we did,” Mr O’Reilly said.
“I was euphoric, so it didn’t bother me. I knew the house was gone already, I knew we were alive, and I was so happy we were alive, the rest was all — who cares, right?”
Mr O’Reilly said he had installed the camera only a month before more because he is a technology geek than out of security concerns.
Entire neighbourhoods have been burned to the ground in Fort McMurray. No-one has died in the fires, but two people died in a car crash during the evacuation.
Canadian police led convoys of cars through the burning ghost town of Fort McMurray in a risky operation to get thousands of people to safety on the other side.
In the latest harrowing chapter of the drama triggered by monster forest fires in Alberta’s oil sands region, the convoys of 50 cars at a time made their way through the city at about 50-60 kilometres per hour, TV footage showed.
Police took up positions at intersections along the way to keep evacuees from detouring to try to salvage belongings from charred homes and make sure the route remains safe from the fire.
Three army helicopters hovered above to sound the alert if the flames got too close to the road, or cut it off completely, as has happened in recent days.
With not nearly enough time to pack, James O’Reilly rushed out of his Fort McMurray home on Tuesday and started driving.
Shortly after, he sat in his truck and watched on his phone while his home burned down.
A security camera captured the scene in his living room, as it was engulfed by the wildfire that has ravaged the northern Alberta city, according to Metro Edmonton.
The footage shows heavy smoke quickly infiltrate the living room as powerful flames crackle near an aquarium. Within a minute, the room is gone.
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