Fort McMurray man watches his home burn on security cam
In-home security systems are offering information for evacuees about the status of their homes
As James O'Reilly joined the exodus out of Fort McMurray on jammed Highway 63 on Tuesday, he watched the view from his home's security camera on his iPhone as flames broke through a window and devoured his living room.
The video shows flames swirling outside O'Reilly's windows in the Abasand neighbourhood, just minutes after thousands of residents were ordered out of the city.
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In the opening moments, the tidy room is filled with intense crackling of the approaching fire.
Moments before, the wildfire had jumped the highway, raging over hundreds of homes before approaching O'Reilly's property, nestled near the tree line of the south-end neighbourhood.
Within seconds, the picture window bright with afternoon sun goes dark with a whirling plume of smoke. The window shatters and thick clouds of smoke billow into the room.
Everything in the room — the overstuffed couch, cheerful fish tank, throw rugs and abstract paintings — is shrouded from view.
The frame goes black, leaving only the sounds from the burning room before the feed goes dead.
It only took one minute and 20 seconds for the fire to destroy the room.
In-house security cameras have become a crucial source of information for Fort McMurray residents who are left to wonder about the fate of their property, but the videos can be heart-wrenching.
Many home owners have used the cameras to track not only the status of their property, but of their street and neighbourhood.
A handful of online forums have cropped up dedicated to the sharing of live footage from these cameras in the hours and days since the city was evacuated.
The public message boards are flush with requests from residents desperate for information on the fate of their street, hoping to see their neighbourhood still intact.