A Canadian couple could only watch security camera footage of their Fort McMurray home burning down, when it was caught in the Alberta wildfire that has raged in Canada during the last few days. James O'Reilly, 51, and his family fled their home on 3 May as a devastating wildfire forced 88,000 people to evacuate the area around the city of Fort McMurray in western Canada. After driving away from the inferno, O'Reilly received an alarm on his phone from his in-house security system.
The security camera footage shows flames just outside the window of the couple's living room. Moments later, a crackling sound can be heard, followed by the sound of glass shattering as the living room window breaks, sending dark smoke billowing into the room. Within a matter of minutes, O'Reilly's home became an inferno.
In their scramble to evacuate, O'Reilly told MetroNews Canada he wasn't able to grab the family's pets: two clownfish whose aquarium can be seen in the security video. The aquarium appears clear and bright in the first few moments of the video but is soon obscured by smoke.
The wildfire, which now covers an area larger than New York City, is expected to double in size in the coming 24 hours.
Alberta wildfire in numbers
- Area affected: 850 sq km, almost the same size as the city of Berlin
- Firefighters involved: More than 1,100
- Firefighting aircrafts involved: 150 helicopters and 27 air tankers
- Buildings destroyed: At least 1,600
- People evacuated: 88,000
- Evacuees airlifted: 8,000
- Insurance estimated loss: $9bn
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called upon Canadians to donate to charities assisting relief efforts. "I would once again like to thank the many first responders who are working tirelessly, day and night, to fight this fire," he said.
"To those who have lost so much: we are resilient, we are Canadians, and we will make it through this difficult time, together," Trudeau added.
More than 1,100 firefighters and 150 helicopters, 295 pieces of heavy equipment and 27 aircraft tankers have been deployed, according to the Canadian government. Residents are not likely to return anytime soon, even to assess damage, according to officials.