May 3, 2017 8:00 pm
Updated: May 3, 2017 8:44 pm

WATCH: 1 year later, firefighters recall running towards ‘The Beast’ while thousands fled

WATCH ABOVE: One year after the Fort McMurray wildfire, firefighters Ryan Pitchers, Ed Grainger and Christian Oberegger reflect on the battle and how fire crews were able to save the majority of the northern Alberta community.

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On May 3, 2016, while tens of thousands of people fled Fort McMurray, hundreds went running in to begin to battle the wildfire now known as “The Beast.

Christian Oberegger was in Week 5 of his firefighter recruit training when he got the call.

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“We weren’t really set. We had wildland gear so I got out with a water pack and went into Beacon Hill and tried to put out a shed fire with a little water pack here… I thought I was going to get it, but we didn’t get it.”

READ MORE: ‘Guys feel guilty’: emotional demons to slay after Fort McMurray wildfire

Ed Grainger was at the gym downtown.

“I remember thinking about Slave Lake and thinking about how insane that might have been. And then thinking about what would happen to our city, not fully understanding what was going to happen. And then it just showed up. Like it was out of a movie.”

READ MORE: ‘These guys are working around the clock’: Alberta firefighters share what it’s like in Fort McMurray

Ryan Pitchers had just started a day shift.

“I had parts of my crew running around with garden houses putting out fence fires and deck fires as we were fighting the big house fires,” he said. “Everybody had the duty to do what they could to save what they could.”

READ MORE: ‘I want us to recognize the true heroes’: Fire chief shares stories of heroism from Fort McMurray

One year later, these men sat down with Global News to talk about some of the memories that stand out from that day and the wave of emotion that followed in the days, weeks and months after the wildfire.

Watch below: Ongoing Global News coverage to mark one year since the Fort McMurray wildfire

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