Residents see first images of homes following Fort McMurray wildfire

Click to play video: 'New Satellite imagery helps Fort McMurray residents survey fire damage'
New Satellite imagery helps Fort McMurray residents survey fire damage
WATCH: Evacuated residents get a first-hand look at the damage following the wildfires. Julia Wong reports – May 15, 2016

EDMONTON – Fort McMurray residents got a first-hand look at their homes Sunday, thanks to new satellite images provided by the provincial government.

The province said structures that appear to be standing should not be considered undamaged. However, the images have given residents a sense of hope and relief.

READ MORE: Alberta Government releases new app showing Fort McMurray wildfire damage

Shane Roberts lives in the Timberlea neighbourhood and said the images show the edge of the fire crept close to his house.

“These are all burnt,” he said, pointing at houses several blocks away from his own.

“You can also see where the red fire retardant was dumped.”

The images appear to show his house was unscathed.

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“You never know 100 per cent until you see something like this or you hear from someone who has driven right past,” he said.

Roberts said the images give him peace of mind.

“To have the availability, the technology is very cool. For me, it’s enough. It’s definitive. It’s yea or nay, you know, whether your house is still standing or it’s not.”

Fire evacuee Jennifer Earle said she clicked on the link to the satellite images as soon as the province sent out the email.

She said the photos show the fire stopped at the edge of her street.

“Our house was spared, thank God.  It was relieving but scary to see how close that {it} actually came,” she said.

Earle said she had been holding her breath because she had no idea what condition her house was in.

“It’s quite a bit {weight} off our shoulders but still dreading going away and seeing. It’s just going to be devastating to go and drive through town,” she said.

Earle, her husband and her children have been staying in a camper for about two weeks. While she appreciates the satellite pictures, she wants to go on a bus tour to see the damage with her own eyes, suggesting bus tours similar to the tours for residents following the Slave Lake fire.

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“I would still like to go back and see, see that it’s ok, see if there’s any damage.”

Troy Hill had no idea whether his house was in okay condition until Global News helped him find his home on the satellite image website.

“I’m very happy to see it’s still standing. It has been a question mark,” he said.

Hill is staying at a camp behind Wandering River, which is about two hours south of Fort McMurray. Now knowing his house is okay, he is looking toward the future.

“The kids will be able to play ball and I’ll be able to sit on my front porch and watch them play ball,” he said.

The province said higher resolution images are coming and those pictures will give residents more information for insurance claims and recovery eligibility funding.

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