Couple watches house burn from smartphone after fleeing Fort McMurray blaze
Published Friday, May 6, 2016 6:39PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 6, 2016 7:53PM EDT
Sitting in a campground 35 kilometres south of their fire-ravaged home, James O’Reilly and his wife Candace watched their house burn from his smartphone.
“Flames were starting to jump up in the front,” O’Reilly told CTV News from Banff on Friday. “The smoke -- boom -- hit the side window, and that smoke turns red, and then as you can see in the video, the glass starts breaking and Candace couldn’t watch anymore. But that gave us confirmation that it was gone.”
The couple’s harrowing escape from Fort McMurray took them through walls of smoke, ash and flame. They only had time to pack two suitcases before fleeing to Gregoire Lake with two cars and their camper.
In the video captured by their house’s security camera, you can see smoke billowing outside the couple’s living room. It thickens as flames lap the edge of the house, then there’s a crash as the windows break and smoke fills the room. Shrill fire alarms can be heard.
Towards the end of the video, you can just barely see flames dancing beneath the thick, acrid smoke.
O’Reilly, a project manager with Suncor, has called Fort McMurray home for 31 years.
“It’s gone -- nothing we can do,” O’Reilly laments. “We know that we’re so lucky.”