A Fort McMurray resident who chose to stay put when the entire town was on a mandatory evacuation order Tuesday said the northern Alberta community is like a ghost town Wednesday.
“It’s like Armageddon here. There’s nobody on the road. Nothing. Absolutely nobody,” Shyle Pierce said Wednesday morning.
Pierce said he and one other household in the Timberlea area on the north side of Fort McMurray stayed in their homes Tuesday night. Pierce said for him, it wasn’t a situation of not wanting to leave, he felt he would be safer where he was.
“We thought we were in a fairly safe area. I didn’t want to get caught on (Highway) 63 when the fire moved that way down towards there into a gridlock situation. I thought that would be a more dangerous situation,” he explained.
“It wasn’t really a ‘protecting the property’ situation. It was a ‘do I want to get stuck in a gridlock situation, where if a fire did happen, I’m stuck on the 63 and I get surrounded by it?'”
Watch below: Ongoing video coverage of the Fort McMurray wildfire
Pierce lives near a large schoolyard. He said he and his neighbour put their vehicles in the field and used sprinklers to keep their properties wet overnight. He said the fire didn’t hit his immediate area; but they stayed up through the night and watched as it moved around them.
“It went directly right around us like a horseshoe,” he said. “You only saw the smoke. You couldn’t see the flames unless you were on the roof of the house so I put a garden hose up there with a sprinkler and wet down the house.”
Pierce, who has lived in Fort McMurray for about a decade, took a drive around parts of the town Wednesday morning. He said the Timberlea area looks okay, but the Wood Buffalo area on the south side of the city suffered major damage.
“There’s a lot of devastation there. A lot of homes got destroyed.”
He said some properties along Real Martin Drive also suffered extensive damage.
“There’s got to be at least 100 homes that are absolutely gone.”
Pierce said heavy equipment, including bulldozers, were being brought into Fort McMurray Wednesday morning. Other than a few emergency vehicles, there was no one else around.