Glimpses of fire's devastation in Fort McMurray

Story highlights

  • Authorities evacuated entire Fort McMurray area
  • Social media offers terrifying view of wildfire's destruction

(CNN)Smoldering buildings, burned, abandoned vehicles and blackened trees are all that is left of some parts of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada, as firefighters work to stop the wildfire that's devastated the community.

Nathan Sheffield was one of the more than 88,000 Fort McMurray residents who had to evacuate the city. He had heard that his neighborhood was only 80 percent damaged, but when he went back to his home early Wednesday, he found it a total loss.
    "Oh man, this is my house -- this was my house," Sheffield said as he surveyed the rubble with his video camera. "The ashes are cool now, nothing left, it's gone."
    Many Fort McMurray evacuees who can't return home are turning to social media to get the briefest glimpses of what they left behind.
    Lou Callan was peppered with questions on Thursday when he posted video on Facebook of his drive through one Fort McMurray neighborhood.


    A video posted by Braydon Snyder (@braydonsnyder) on

    "What about Beacon Hill?"
    "Any idea what Atkinson Lane looks like?"
    "Is the graveyard still intact?"
    Callan answered as many queries as he could, but said police had put up barricades blocking access to many parts of town.
    The videos show just how arbitrary the giant fire can be. In some neighborhoods one house may look perfectly fine, while another house 10 feet away is reduced to a pile of ash.
    In other areas, the destruction was more complete.
    "It's crazy how fast things can change. I'm just thankful that me and my family made it out safe," Chris Thorne wrote in an Instagram post. "We may have lost our house but there is nothing we can't overcome together."
    If you've evacuated the Fort McMurray area, CNN would like to hear about your experience. If it's safe, please share your photos, videos and stories on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #CNNiReport .