Like thousands of others, James O’Reilly and his wife evacuated their Fort McMurray home on May 3 to escape the massive wildfires that hit the Canadian region this week.
About 20 minutes later, O’Reilly watched on his indoor security camera as his living room burned.
The video starts rather innocuously—just a neat living room with some crackling noise in the background. Yet in the window on the right one can already see the flames.
Moments later, the flames are visible in the window on the left. About 1:30 in, the window starts to make cracking sounds. In less than two minutes the outer window glass breaks. Seconds later the inner window glass breaks too and thick smoke starts to roll in. In two more minutes the room appears filled with smoke, blocking the camera’s view. But one can still see the flames on the left creeping in through the window.
“We’ve been talking for two days about all the things we left behind,” O’Reilly told Edmonton Metro. “We left pretty much all our important papers, some important pictures, we left a glass of Candace’s father who passed away.”
By the time they got home on Tuesday the mandatory evacuation order came so they only had minutes to pack some clothing and leave.
Over 1,100 firefighters continue to battle the raging inferno, which is still growing. As of Thursday night, there were 49 fires, seven still out of control.
The wildfires spread to over 100,000 hectares (close to 400 square miles), the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Tweeted shortly after Friday noon. That’s more than the total land area of New York City’s five boroughs. The fire could cost insurers up to $9 billion, a Bank of Montreal analyst told CBC.