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Behind The Lens - Fort McMurray Wildfire

Today social media was filled with everyone's memories from 2 years ago when 88,000 people in Fort McMurray were forced to evacuate from a wildfire known as The Beast. I've been trying to figure out what to say or what memory to share, there's so many pictures / thoughts, but the words are hard to put together.

So I decided to turn it into a blog post and have this be the first installment of Behind The Lens, where my husband has taken some photos of me in action behind the scenes, and you'll see what I saw behind the lens.

May 1st was when the fire initially broke out. We were having a doggy play date with some friends when we noticed the smoke rising behind the houses. It wasn't long before the sky was filled with smoke, so thick it blocked out the sun. Of course I had my camera so I start taking photos.

We learn the smoke we were seeing was from a fire 4km away from where we were. After dinner we go for a drive to get some photos. It looked like a volcano had erupted with how much smoke there was. Later that night that area of town was evacuated on precaution.

May 2, 2016 - I went to the press conference and took pictures for our news team at the radio station. The fire is now 1200 hectares. I get to leave work early to take more photos.

May 3, 2016 - Evacuation day. I see a tweet of a photo taken next door around 12:30pm of a crazy smoke column. I had my camera at work again and rushed outside to take a look. It was crazy. I wasn't even finished working on it when the word comes Beacon Hill is on fire and there's mandatory evacuations. It goes downhill from there. This smoke column was the only photo I took on my camera among the chaos that day. The next ones to be taken were upon our return 1 month later.

Fort McMurray Wildfire May 2016 downtown Harvey Ave radio stations

May 3, 2017 - You hear anniversaries like this are often a difficult time. For the last week I've been trying to figure out what makes it different than every other time I've been affected by thoughts and footage of the fire. And for me, I've come to realize it's because I know exactly what I was doing and how I was feeling this time 1 year ago. I remember certain events over the years where I was upset, but I couldn't tell you what day and what time those were. Last year on this day, at this time, we were terrified and crying at work. Sections of town were on fire and being forced to evacuate, and every few minutes another area was being evacuated. With Matt having the vehicle that day and not being able to leave work, I was so scared we wouldn't get home to the pets in time (because once it was mandatory to evacuate, you couldn't go to your house, not even for pets. And we had only had Kaylee a month). I recorded the boss with the message to air that the station was unmanned and for everyone to head North or South... I really believed there wouldn't be anything to come back to when we left. It's not something we'll ever forget. Although we all know someone or have family who lost everything, we've all changed and have grown stronger together. I'm so proud of our country's support and proud to have lived in Fort Mac for 3 years. I really do miss it up there. I wish I could be with everyone I went through this with last year on this day but know my heart is there and always thinking about the city & its people.

(image 251 is not mine)


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