Smart home camera gives Canadian man front-row seat to fiery demise of his house

As any smart home user can attest, installing a home security camera can reap massive benefits including (but not limited to) specialized alerts during break-ins, the capability to snoop on a shady babysitter, or simply having the opportunity to peek into an empty home while away. For one of the many displaced homeowners evacuating the burning town of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada, this past week, a home security camera gave him and his wife front-row seats to the fiery destruction of their home — and, unfortunately, there was nothing they could do about it.

While high-tailing it to a safe distance away from the Fort McMurray blaze, James O’Reilly booted up a companion smart home smartphone application that provided a live feed of his home’s security camera. Over the course of five heartbreaking minutes, O’Reilly and his wife, Candace, agonizingly watched as the growing wildfire slowly consumed the house they’d owned for nearly two decades. With an opportunity to grab a mere collection of essentials as they hurried out of town, the O’Reillys had no option but to watch as scores of memories, belongings, and (sadly) a pair of clownfish succumbed to the fire.

“We’ve been talking for two days about all the things we left behind,” James O’Reilly tells Canada’s Metro News. “We left pretty much all our important papers, some important pictures, we left a glass of Candace’s father who passed away.”

For those unaware, a wildfire of epic proportions has spent the better part of the last two weeks wreaking havoc on a small oil town in northeastern Alberta. Though a cause of the fire has yet to be determined, the blaze has destroyed more than 1,600 homes and buildings and forced local officials to issue mandatory evacuations across all of the area’s neighborhoods. According to one of Alberta’s fire officials, it will likely be months before the burning is extinguished and contained.

A NASA Earth Observatory photo of the Fort McMurray fire
A NASA Earth Observatory photo of the Fort McMurray fire NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens

Though O’Reilly’s glimpse into his home’s demise is an incredibly depressing cherry on top of an already disastrous situation, the video did allow the call for evacuation to quickly spread throughout the area. After O’Reilly shared the video with Metro News, word of the fire’s advancement into his neighborhood — and surrounding areas — made it possible for those nearby to heed the call to evacuate, likely saving lives in the process.

As for what lies ahead for the O’Reilly family, the couple did manage to make it out of city limits in a camper, something James says makes them “better (off) than most.” Sadly, a Bank of Montreal analyst says the cost of the fire could reach an astounding $9 billion, likely making the Fort McMurray fire one of the most catastrophic disasters in Canadian history.


This hybrid tiny home sauna gives hotbox a whole new meaning

Tiny homes seem to come in all shapes and forms these days, and Igluhuts are no exception. While the homes look more like a hobbit might come out of one on the outside, inside, there's a modern and sleek look aimed at relaxation and…
Smart Home

Ring home security system now works as a hub for smart home devices

Ring is helping the issue of smart home fragmentation with its Works With Ring program. It lets thousands of smart home devices built on Z-Wave connect to Ring's Alarm Base Station.

Digital Trends is hiring! Come write about tech for the way we live

Digital Trends is hiring! We're currently seeking professional freelance writers with expertise in smart homes, home theater, and computers, as well as a number of generalists to work on features and guides.

The best iRobot Roomba deals to make cleaning your home a breeze

Keep your home clean without lifting a finger using a robot vacuum cleaner. These nine iRobot Roomba deals not only help you keep your home tidy, but many also come with advanced features such as automatic scheduling and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Smart Home

SMEG debuts colorful dual-fuel Portofino 48-inch ranges for no-compromise cooks

When SMEG launches new kitchen appliances, you can count on retro-classic design, gorgeous high-end finishes, envy-inducing functional wizardry, and lofty prices. This week SMEG launched its Portofino Dual-Fuel 48-inch Pro-Style Range.

Walmart offers big price cuts on air fryers from La Gourmet and Farberware

Walmart made deep price cuts on air fryers from La Gourmet, Farberware, and others. Air frying is faster, healthier, and easier to clean than traditional deep frying. You also can use most air fryers for baking, roasting, and grilling.
Product Review

4K in home security is finally here, thanks to Arlo’s Ultra UHD smart cam

The 4K home security camera is finally here! Class-leading image clarity and a super-wide field of vision makes Arlo Ultra an early contender for the year’s best smart cam. While there are definite quirks to the device, the device…

Amazon drops a killer Instant Pot deal, with prices under $60

Instant Pots are the popular kitchen device known for making cooking easier and faster. Thinking of finally getting yourself one? Amazon dropped the price of the Instant Pot Duo Mini. Prepare delicious meals this Easter Sunday with this…
Smart Home

I have seen the future, and it’s full of salad-making robots

Think that robots bussing tables, tossing salads and baking bread is a futuristic concept? It's actually not as far away as you might think. Robots took center stage at a food robotics summit in San Francisco this week, where they showed…
Smart Home

Ecobee leverages humor in a heated discussion with climate change skeptics

Ecobee cranked up the heat on climate change doubters. In observance of Earth Day, Ecobee and ad agency DCX released video of a social experiment that tested the effectiveness of humor in easing tension during discussions with skeptics.
Smart Home

Miele stuns with wireless probe, self-descaling java pot, and other new products

Miele rocked KBIS 2019 with waves of new appliances and features. The annual Kitchen and Bathroom Industry Show is all about product launches and Miele's appliance reveal was like New York Fashion Week with a single designer.

Shark, Ecovacs, and Roomba robot vacuums get price cuts for spring

The weather's getting nice again, and we're all emerging from our winter-long hibernation. So it's time once again to also start on that spring cleaning you've been putting off. But who really wants to clean when you'd rather be outside? We…
Smart Home

Echo Plus (1st-gen) vs. Echo Plus (2nd-gen): How exactly do they compare?

Which Echo Plus should you buy? This guide compares the first-generation Echo Plus its latest successor, allowing you to get a better idea regarding the ins and outs of each device.
Smart Home

Making hard-boiled eggs isn’t hard — here’s how to do it perfectly every time

With the help of science or some kitchen gadgets, making hard-boiled eggs can be a little easier. It may not be the hardest task in the world, but a few of these methods are foolproof.