A photo of firefighters in Fort McMurray taking their first break after more than 24 hours of battling the raging wildfire has gone viral and shows the toll placed on first responders.
The photo was posted to Twitter by the Strathcona County Fire department and shows several exhausted firefighters lying on the lawn of a house, seeming safe from the blaze that has destroyed more than 1,600 buildings and homes.
Strathcona County, located east of Edmonton, has sent two 15-member crews to help battle the enormous wildfire.
The first batch left Sherwood Park on Tuesday night and have been working virtually flat-out since they arrived in the wee hours Wednesday. They were set to head home on Thursday night.
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Deputy operations chief Devin Capcara said the picture was taken at about 2 p.m. on Wednesday during their first bit of rest.
“They took about a 15 to 20 minute break and then went right back to it,” he said.
“Being there, knowing that things are burning, our guys don’t like to take rest breaks so they’ve pretty much been on the trucks the whole time.”
On Friday, officials said the changing winds were giving a reprieve to the embattled northern Alberta city, but added that the fire that forced more than 80,000 people from their homes remained out of control and could burn for weeks.
*With files from the Canadian Press