In a matter of hours, Fort McMurray—a bustling Alberta city of nearly 90,000 people—emptied out, bowing to an untamed wildfire sprawling quickly through the brush. Some people only had a few minutes before voluntary evacuation suggestions became urgent mandatory orders. And so what Fort McMurray residents grabbed before they filed purposefully out through the ash-flecked air was an emotional sign of what mattered most.
Albertans shared with Maclean’s the items they managed to leave with—and the items that were left behind. See the portraits of those items here.
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What they carried
Trudy Donnelly, 50
Home: Fort McMurray
“I’m a nurse at the hospital. I came home Monday and the sky was clear. Still my husband said maybe we should pack a few things. So we packed some bags—about five suitcases and a couple of little bins. [Tuesday] we threw them in the vehicles and hooked up the trailer. We drove through probably two kilometres of smoke and fire before everything cleared out."