By on May 6, 2016

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Surrounded by hundreds of miles of tinder-dry forest, Fort McMurray, Alberta seemed to ignite in an instant when wildfires overtook the oil-producing Canadian city earlier this week.

As the 88,000 residents fled in their vehicles, in many cases with just the shirts on their back, dashcams captured their flight towards safety.

It’s harrowing stuff, especially when you consider there’s only one highway leading into the city — an artery that quickly turned into a parking lot as flames encroached on both sides. Amazingly, no lives were lost in the fast-moving disaster.

Watch the horror for yourselves after the break:

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69 Comments on “Terrifying Escapes Captured on Dashcam Video as a City Burns...”


  • avatar

    Always remember:

    Humanity is at the mercy of nature. Not the other way around.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      How’s climate-change denial working out for you these days?

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        It’s always more convenient to mention global warming when there is a fire, drought, a hot summer, or a hurricane that makes landfall.

        It’s not such a popular subject in the winter, so that’s why it was renamed ‘climate change’ – so all unpleasant conditions can be blamed on Man.

        So for me, ‘climate-change denying’ is working out quite well, thanks.

        Back to my first point, it’s pretty sick that the global warming crowd eagerly uses natural disasters as a tool for their case – every time.

        There’s nothing like a Category 5 over a populated city to help the cause. Unfortunately for you, the last few years have been a bit lean in that regard, but this wildfire can help, I suppose.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          …and it’s always convenient to mention a regional snowstorm or cold snap when arguing that global climate change cannot be occurring.

          Climate change predictions never forecast an end to cold weather in winter or every summer being more extreme than the next. You’re an educated professional, you should understand about spatial variability and short-term variation within longer trends.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            …and it’s always convenient to mention during a regional snowstorm or cold snap when arguing that global climate change cannot be occurring….

            Faux News does this exact thing all the time. That said I think blaming the fire on climate change is a bit of a stretch…and I’m no blind-to-science denier.

            I really feel bad for all those people (and animals) that are losing everything….I can’t imagine coming home to no home…

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          SCE to AUX – the trend is to more wildfires since winters are trending to be warmer and drier. Spring and summer also have been trending towards drier weather.As of April 1st 2016 we have had 203 wildfires. Experts say this is unusual.

          I met an old trapper guide/outfitter who has lived in a remote Northern part of BC for the majority of his life. He has kept a weather diary and he is a proponent of climate change. This is a fellow with limited access to mass media and Al Gore.

          Mountain pine beetle is an epidemic in BC pine forests. Warmer winters are one of the main culprits. We have not had enough early cold weather to kill off these insects before their “anti-freeze” kicks in. We can share direct blame beyond climate change due to “managed” forests and wildfire abatement.

          I personally do not recall a recent winter with -45C weather. As a child I frequently recall such weather. Our local town has routinely gone over-budget on road maintenance because winters NOW have frequent freeze/thaw cycles that tear up roads.

      • 0 avatar

        @psarhjinian
        There are people suffering and you are gloating with your political agenda? Disgusting.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          This just in, apparently having an opinion in line with empirical data is a “political agenda.”

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @Inside Looking Out – Every expert discussing the Ford McMurray fire says that global warming is a large contributor.

            Pointing that out to a vociferous denier is now a political agenda?

            I’m sure Galileo had a few “told you so” moments when dealing with the “earth is flat” crowd.

          • 0 avatar

            Then just stop driving cars if you have so much faith in Global Warming. What you are doing on gasoline powered car site?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “Then just stop driving cars if you have so much faith in Global Warming. What you are doing on gasoline powered car site?”

            ILO, the world is full of individuals who talk out of their @ss because their mouth knows better.

            Everybody has to have something they can believe in. Mine is a firm and unequivocal belief in gasoline-powered vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            Inside Looking Out – I don’t live in an area that is EV friendly so gas/diesel power is my only real alternative.

            Global warming is real.

            It isn’t a matter of faith.

            Every expert on forest fires points to global warming as a contributor.

          • 0 avatar

            You still can ride a bicycle, many in SF do it everyday. God is also real, it is a scientific fact.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Inside, you are one of the reasons why the global warming issue is such a nightmare to discuss, because apparently you feel that in order to accept climate change science you must have a liberal agenda aimed at killing the internal combustion engine.

            Try divorcing the science from the political agendas and ramifications. It is still intellectually honest to hold the position that human activity is a major driver in observed warming, but to believe the economic ramifications of aggressive reductions in carbon emissions are too severe.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            30-mile fetch, I for one respect that different people can have different beliefs and philosophies than my own.

            But don’t lay your beliefs of global warming or whatever on those that do not share it.

            That’s like Muslim terrorists killing Christians and Jews because they do not share the same faith, or worship the same God.

            Belief what you will but don’t preach your gospel about global warming or whatever to those that reject it.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            highdesertcat – Once again you show your true colours. 30 – Mile fetch raises a valid point. You even say we are addicted to oil. Which is worse – depriving an addict or harm reduction?

            There is a reason why I mentioned Galileo and “the earth is flat” crowd.

            You are saying that if you believe the earth to be flat then anyone who supports the fact that it is round is just impinging upon your right to believe something different.

            “That’s like Muslim terrorists killing Christians and Jews because they do not share the same faith, or worship the same God.”

            Judaism, Christianity, and Muslim religions are all monotheistic and share a common ancestry through Abraham.

            ” Jesus, is considered to be the penultimate prophet and messenger of God and al-Masih (the Messiah) in Islam who was sent to guide the Children of Israel (banī isrā’īl) with a new scripture, al-Injīl (the Gospel).The belief that Jesus is a prophet is required in Islam. This is reflected in the fact that he is clearly a significant figure in the Quran, appearing in 93 ayaat (or verses) with various titles attached, with Moses appearing 136 times and Abraham 69 times.”

            Looks like your beliefs must get hammered by facts on an all to frequent basis.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Lou_BC, no disrespect to anyone. People can believe what they want.

            I’ve already been through the Global Cooling panic that predicted that this planet would be a frozen iceball before the year 2000. We all know how that prediction turned out.

            How could such eminent and learned scientists be so wrong? They relied on faulty data and drew faulty conclusions. And yes, they all had an agenda to shape the world according to their visions of the global future.

            Ditto, this global warming crap. I’m not the only one who doesn’t buy this eco tree-fornicating philosophy.

            Regardless of your procrastination on religious faith, it really is Muslim terrorists who you so vigorously defend, that are causing such turmoil in so many places around the world. It ain’t the Christians. And it ain ‘t the Jews.

            I’m fine with what you choose to believe. Just don’t try to win over the non-believers.

            When you bring your uber left wing agenda to a public forum, you’re gonna get flak because not everyone is on board with your analysis of the world.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            “That’s like Muslim terrorists killing Christians and Jews because they do not share the same faith, or worship the same God.”

            That’s what you got out of it? Complete f*ing bullsh*t, HDC, your hyperbole is off the charts on that one.

            And your reading comprehension skills are apparently poor. I’m not forcing my “beliefs on global warming” on anyone, I’m stating you can accept the science without accepting the advocacy that often accompanies it.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            30-mile fetch, I accepted the “science” of global cooling. I was young and impressionable then. Were those scientists ever wrong!

            BTW, my comment was not a criticism of your prior comment. I should have written, “But global warming peddlers should not lay their beliefs of global warming or whatever on those that do not share it.”

            I do not share it. And I’m not the lone ranger in this either.

            It’s just another ploy by uber-left liberal, tree-hugging, eco-scientists with an agenda, to shape the world into their vision for the planet.

            What a crock!

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @HDC – I’m not surprised that you are labelling it ideology of the left. That is always easier to do. Lump someone or something into an opposing camp and that conveniently renders any comments or evidence from that side worthless. It also serves to dehumanize the opposition.

            Isn’t that a ploy of the Daesh?

            Oh and on global cooling, that had very little support from the scientific community. The media was mostly to blame on that one.

            “Global cooling was a conjecture during the 1970s of imminent cooling of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere culminating in a period of extensive glaciation. This hypothesis had little support in the scientific community, but gained temporary popular attention due to a combination of a slight downward trend of temperatures from the 1940s to the early 1970s and press reports that did not accurately reflect the full scope of the scientific climate literature, which showed a larger and faster-growing body of literature projecting future warming due to greenhouse gas emissions. The current scientific opinion on climate change is that the Earth has not durably cooled, but underwent global warming throughout the 20th century.”

            “Looks like your beliefs must get hammered by facts on an all too frequent basis.”

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Lou_BC, I call a spade a spade and a terrorist a terrorist even if they are Christian terrorists from Ireland or Germany.

            And global cooling sure had me worried, but global warming does not. Fool me once, shame on me. I’m not going to be fooled twice.

            We each believe what we choose to believe. I don’t try to change your way of thinking, and manipulated misinterpreted data presented as facts don’t change my way of thinking.

            There are plenty of reputable scientists who disagree with the concept of global warming. I choose to side with them.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @HDC – now it is just you “calling a spade a spade”.

            Global cooling was unsupported by the majority of the scientific community.

            There have been studies done on the number of scientists supporting global warming aka climate change. The lowest number was 91% and another at 93%. There are 4 studies showing 97% consensus and one at 100%.

            ” A Skeptical Science peer-reviewed survey of all (over 12,000) peer-reviewed abstracts on the subject ‘global climate change’ and ‘global warming’ published between 1991 and 2011 (Cook et al. 2013) found that over 97% of the papers taking a position on the subject agreed with the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. In a second phase of the project, the scientist authors were emailed and rated over 2,000 of their own papers. Once again, over 97% of the papers taking a position on the cause of global warming agreed that humans are causing it.”

            ” Most striking is the divide between expert climate scientists (97.4%) and the general public (58%). The paper concludes:

            “It seems that the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes. The challenge, rather, appears to be how to effectively communicate this fact to policy makers and to a public that continues to mistakenly perceive debate among scientists.”

            “Most striking is the divide between expert climate scientists (97.4%) and the general public (58%).”

            To quote you once again,”There are plenty of reputable scientists who disagree with the concept of global warming. I choose to side with them.”

            2.6 % isn’t plenty.

            and

            Not all Muslims are terrorists.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Lou_BC, you’re pushing your agenda and beliefs on someone who rejects them.

            It is OK with me if you believe what you want to believe. I live my life according to my beliefs.

            And while not all muslims are terrorists, the terrorists we have to deal with these days are muslim.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            highdesertcat –

            This is a public blog.

            I’m sure that there are plenty out their that aren’t sure what side of this debate to stand upon whether it be climate change or terrorism.

            I know your views are fixed.

            If someone sitting on the fence on both topics reads these posts, which side do you think they will chose as more credible?

            Thanks for eloquently defending your position.

            I seek truth.

            Is that by definition an agenda?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Lou_BC, wasn’t there someone who blamed terrorism on global warming?

            Certainly not I.

            The truth you seek will be self-evident, in time, Lou.

            As we navigate through our individual lives, we each have decide upon a course of action based on the tenets of what we each believe in, whether that be religious faith-based, or based on science.

            I learn from others, avoid the mistakes they made, accept what beliefs I share with them, and reject those beliefs I do not share with them.

            My own beliefs, cultivated and honed by the school of hard knocks, often rub others the wrong way, but I’m not asking anyone to live their lives in accordance with my beliefs.

            But my beliefs work for me. And for me, that’s really all that matters.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @HDC – You said it before, your beliefs work for you. (And Trump)

            You didn’t blame terrorism for global warming but you did blame “Green Extremists” for this fire.

            I used to believe many of the things you do. I was anti-gay, and there were minorities that I distrusted and looked down upon. I also doubted global warming.

            I realized that if I were to call myself a Christian as in believer in Christ, I could not hold any of those beliefs.

            I don’t pick and chose ideology to suite my selfish wants and desires. I do seek truth as opposed to what you do which is to seek validation of your beliefs.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “Humanity is at the mercy of nature. Not the other way around.”

      What if it was arson, as many fires are?

      • 0 avatar
        Smaller-is-Better

        Whether it was arson, an out of control camp fire or a lightning strike is not known but that would only be the spark.

        The fire is fueled by forests drying out in the midst of record-setting 85F heat and lack of rain, in April. With high winds added to the cocktail, it grew much faster and larger than a regular wildfire.

        Keep in mind that Ft McMurray is located further north than some of the southern reaches of Alaska.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        It hasn’t been proven but it is highly unlikely that it was deliberate. People are poor assessors of risk and do a lot of really stupid things. Most wildfires are caused by man’s careless actions. Case in point; in BC as of April first we had 203 wildfires of which 199 were caused by people.

        Climate change is a huge contributor. In my region we had little snow and a very warm early spring. We have had some large wildfires in the far North of the province in April. That is highly unusual because most areas traditionally would still have some snow pack at lower elevations.

        • 0 avatar
          Jagboi

          You recall 3 years ago it was heavy rain and the flooding, it’s just nature’s cycles. We all knew this was an El Nino year in Western Canada and would be warm and dry and it is.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @Jagboi – nature’s cycles are getting stronger and more violent.
            When I was a child I rarely ever noticed strong winds. There was always a predictable period in the fall where it was more windy. I now tend to notice more wind especially with the passing of weather systems.
            Same can be said for thunder storms. That was always just a summer time phenomenon. We’ve had thunderstorms in the middle of winter and rain storms. That is not normal.

    • 0 avatar
      01 Deville

      All the more reason not to prod nature with our indiscretions. Such as discharge of excessive green house gases..

    • 0 avatar
      thenerdishere

      Independent of what time a new article is posted, BTSR is the first to comment. What a lonely, sad soul.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    It was interesting to observe the vehicles in the exodus from Fort Mac. Certainly the preponderance of pickups was expected, but there were more compacts than I would have thought. And one 4th generation Firebird. Someone’s prized possession? I wonder how many vehicles were left behind?

  • avatar
    friedclams

    I admire these people keeping calm (mostly). I’m not sure I wouldn’t have panicked in that situation. Pretty terrifying.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      They’re Canadians, remember. God bless ’em, they keep calm and carry on.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      If they’re anything like Minnesotans, they’re following the old adage: “Be like a duck: calm on the surface, but paddling like mad underneath.”

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      …I admire these people keeping calm (mostly). I’m not sure I wouldn’t have panicked in that situation. Pretty terrifying….

      You would be surprised at how calm people can be. On 9/11 I was part of a massive crowd that hopped into the street and ran in a rather orderly fashion with a massive cloud of dust rapidly overtaking us. It was a muted kind of panic – we knew we had to move and move fast, but nobody trampled on anybody and those who struggled were often offered help. Frankly it helped restore my faith in people. All while the idea that I was in a Bruce Willis movie kept running through my head…

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      In America there would have been fifteen immediate fender benders, as people smashed into one another while wildly texting and Instagramming pics.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    This is just terrible. I hope the evacuated people get the support they need both in the short term and to rebuild once it’s safe to go back.

  • avatar

    This reminds me a lot of the horrific fires near Melbourne, Australia back in 2009. Those fires claimed over 300 lives and destroyed entire towns.

    In the chaos of the mass exodus, people would crash into each other due to the limited visibility from the smoke and panic

    One of the most gruesome situations were cars lined up like this, and the approaching fire and heat would melt the tires, leaving the cars stranded. Dozens of people were lost as their cars were disabled and eventually swallowed up by the flames.

    Despite the loss of their homes, these folks in Alberta were very fortunate to escape unscathed

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @festiboi – there have been no deaths attributed directly to the fire. One car crash did occur killing 2 people. It wasn’t in a fire area.

      • 0 avatar

        Hey Lou- I was referring to the Australian fires which were similar to these. Many died from those.

        I have been shocked, while watching the news and reading your comment, that no one has died from these. They are very lucky, despite the situation

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @festiboi – Sorry if I gave the impression that I was challenging your statement.

          I was adding the fact that no one had died yet from this fire.

          I’m not familiar with the dynamics of Australia’s brush fires. They might travel faster than a forest fire which could make it more likely for people to get caught.

          BC and Alberta have well developed wildfire response infrastructure in place. I’d like to think that was a contributor to preventing death as opposed to blind luck.

          A fire of this size becomes its own monster. It creates its own winds and IIRC those can be hurricane velocity. Embers and even larger chunks of burning material can be shot into the air for kilometers away from the fire.
          Standard procedure is to create fireguards and light backfires to burn back forest to the fire front to consume its fuel. You then control escapes and hotspots. The end goal is to let it burn itself out and then go in and mop up.

          This fire is too big for that to work effectively. All one can do is try to mitigate damage and hope the weather cooperates.

          • 0 avatar
            varinki

            All of the Eucalyptus trees don’t help a eucalyptus forest tends to promote fire because of the volatile and highly combustible oils produced by the leaves, as well as the production of large amounts of litter which is high in phenolics, preventing its breakdown by fungi and thus accumulates as large amounts of dry, combustible fuel. Consequently, dense eucalypt plantings may be subject to catastrophic firestorms.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            varinki – thanks. that makes sense.

  • avatar
    never_follow

    It’s probably not a nice way to look at things, but insurance is going to bail out a LOT of people that were upside-down on their homes/cars…

    Over the last year I’ve dealt with a lot of people in Northern Alberta who went from boom to bust and couldn’t afford their cars and toys. Anyone who was able to keep it together up until last week lucked out about as much as you can in this situation.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    A lot of people I know are out of their homes. My favorite gas station blew up. Helping out whoever I can.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      One of my colleagues has family there. A few days ago they were scattered and not together. So far, their home has been spared.Truly worrisome. We have friends that work in the tar-sands. They are all “commuters” and made it out fine. My wife offered assistance to people as well even though we are a long distance away from Fort Mac.

      • 0 avatar
        Delta9A1

        Oil sands. There is no tar in the Northern Alberta sand. Just crude oil/bitumen. We can help Fort Mac recover fully by clarifying to the world that the “heavy” oil from the oil sands is not very different from the heavy goo that Venezuela and others produce.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Delta9A1 – “tar sands” is just an expression or commonly used term. If you google “Tar sands” you get links to Alberta oil sands. If it makes you feel better, thanks for clarifying.

          • 0 avatar
            shaker

            “Tar” may be popular because lots of steam (energy) is needed to separate the “oil” from the sand, which is why it’s considered a very “carbon intensive” method of oil extraction.

            Despite the short-term economic benefits, the lasting scar on the landscape is undeniable. The effects on the climate are, however, subject to endless debate… Hopefully, the next generations will see the folly of this and respond before the creeping disaster becomes irreversible.

    • 0 avatar
      Waftable Torque

      I know a few people in Edmonton who would normally be working in the Mac at this time of year. Interestingly, all of them were laid off last year and didn’t experience the drama of what the local residents are going through.

  • avatar
    John

    Preppers with their bug out bags are a bunch of paranoid lunatics, useful only for making fun of on television, until something like this happens.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      John – every disaster preparedness expert states that one should be ready to evacuate/abandon one’s home and be prepared to survive unaided for at least 3 days.
      I don’t have “bug out” bags per se but I like to be organized so my camping gear is in a large tote bin and a couple of duffel bags. I can have my truck loaded and even get my 12 ft. aluminum boat loaded and be out the driveway in less than 30 minutes.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    Incorrect story. Yes there was at least one death.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Dougjp – please post source. I am not aware of any deaths directly related to the fire. There was a car crash with a transport truck where 2 people were killed but it wasn’t along a stretch of road with active fire along side it.

  • avatar
    snoproblem

    Holy snappin’ crap, what a nightmare. I honestly can’t say how well my nerves would have held in that kind of situation.

    Consider that the video-taker was able to feel the heat of the blaze from inside his truck – what was the motorcyclist behind him experiencing? :(

  • avatar
    -Nate

    This is horrible .
    .
    Some years ago I was in Arizona when this same thing occurred and we skedaddled A.S.A.P. , I nearly crapped my self thinking of the poorly maintained truck (not mine) I was riding in and what I’d do if it clattered to a stop in the middle of a forest fire .
    .
    It’s now 6PM on 5.7 and the news still says no deaths , it’s a miracle .
    .
    -Nate

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    It would be interesting to know how the aluminum-bodied Ford pickups fared, if any of them were among the many abandoned vehicles. I saw one shot of a burned out pickup with melted alloy rims.

    Regarding the global cooling event of the 70’s, I’d like to reinforce that there was a bit of substance to it but it was a non-event in the overall trends. You cannot find any proof that, for instance, Greenpeace ever cited global cooling.

    Meanwhile other enviro concerns such as the holes in the ozone layer and acid rain were valid and were more or less countered by measures resulting from the hoopla. So if anything the record is that such concerns should be heeded.

    Deniers like to depict those who warn of global warming as idiots by saying they want to end all use of fossil fuels immediately. Obviously that would be idiotic. In reality the call is for reducing dependence on fossil fuels. But the deniers either are too thick to understand the difference, or their thirst for a brawl overcomes their common sense.


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