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
Shabana Isma, 41
“I was very confused and worried about my home. I picked up my kids from school. My husband had already started packing the suitcases, and I told the older girls to pack themselves. I grabbed whatever I could from the pantry—granola bars, cookies, juice, water. My husband had already packed the documents. My kids and the stuff we needed for travel that was most important. Then I thought of my jewelry, which is very special to me. I have very emotional feelings for it. It is sentimental."