I don’t actually remember saying those words, but I know they’re what everyone remembers.
“This is Fort McMurray burning this afternoon,” I said in a video that’s now one of the Top Trending YouTube videos of this year.
It is the only news video in the compilation of clicked videos in YouTube’s Rewind 2016 list.
Watch below: Global National’s Reid Fiest was live on the air when the beast of a fire erupted behind him. Global photographers Loren Andreae and Dean Twardzik join him in remembering that moment on May 3, 2016.
Global National’s Dawna Friesen introduced me in a live TV report on May 3, saying the wildfire was on the community’s borders. In a matter of minutes the wildfire–dubbed the “Beast”–was just four lanes of asphalt away from us.
We became part of the story at that point.
FULL COVERAGE: Fort McMurray wildfire
Watch below: Global National’s Reid Fiest speaks to Global Edmonton anchor Gord Steinke about a Global News Fort McMurray fire video making a YouTube Top 10 list.
My photographer/editor Loren Andreae saw the flames first, through the lens of the camera.
“In minutes it went from something on the horizon to right in your face,” Andreae recalled.
While I was on air, I recall hearing someone yell that we had to go.
Watch below: A Super 8 hotel in Fort McMurray burns behind reporter Reid Fiest, as he struggles with wildfire smoke during his live report for Global National. The out-of-control fire nearly doubled in size overnight, sending thousands of residents fleeing as officials issued a mandatory evacuation
It was the voice of Global Edmonton satellite truck operator Dean Twardzik.
“It was to the point I didn’t feel safe anymore,” Twardzik said.
“I remember shouting, ‘Reid, we’ve got to go!’ and that’s when we packed up and we went further into town and it ended up surrounding us there. That’s when we had to book it and get out.”
We left downtown Fort McMurray with thousands of others, driving through clouds of black smoke as we fled.
WATCH: Looking back: covering the Fort McMurrary fire.
“My mind really didn’t comprehend what we saw until a week after and when I found out how widespread our pictures and reports went…like worldwide,” Andreae said.
Watch below from May 12: The face of the Fort McMurray wildfire, Wood Buffalo fire chief Darby Allen, has decided to step back from his duties as residents whose homes are still standing learn they can’t go back. Reid Fiest reports.
Looking back, we were probably too close, but the fire was growing and moving so fast.
“When you’re in the moment, that adrenaline is just going, and you’re just focused on just doing your job,” Twardzik said.
In the days, weeks and months that followed our Global News team went over and above to cover this story.
I have no doubt, while it may be difficult, Fort McMurray will rise again.
“They look after their own up there, for sure,” Twardzik said.
“They are strong and Albertans are strong,” Andreae added.
But no one will forget that May day.
I never will.
WATCH: Reid Fiest discusses his time reporting during the Fort McMurray wildfire. A video of his time covering the devastating blaze was among those named on a list of YouTube’s top 10 videos of 2016