Strathcona County firefighters saving houses in Fort McMurray

A photo from Fort McMurray that shows exhausted firefighters taking their first break in 30 hours has gone viral online.

Strathcona County firefighters get first break in 30 hours after leaving Edmonton for Fort McMurray

Strathcona County firefighters sent to Fort McMurray take their first break on Wednesday after hours of trying to save homes in the city. (Supplied/Strathconca County Emergency Services)

A photo from Fort McMurray that shows exhausted firefighters taking their first break in 30 hours has gone viral online. 

Posted on Twitter by the Strathcona County fire department, the photo shows seven firefighters resting on the grass, the nearby houses seemingly safe from the wildfire currently ravaging other parts of the city.

"I think that was about 30 hours after leaving here ... kind of the first chance they had to catch a break since they got out there," said Devin Capcara, deputy chief of operations with Strathcona County Emergency Services.

"They've described the conditions up there as basically moving from house to house within the neighbourhood they were assigned, trying to save houses."

The fire department in Strathcona County, east of Edmonton, sent 10 of their members to Fort McMurray on Tuesday. They now have about 15 firefighters there, with more on the way.

Capcara said working conditions have been incredibly harsh.

"The fires around Fort McMurray are very, very intense and it's throwing burning embers up, and the winds are blowing that into town. There's been a lot of structures that have been lost."

"They've reported that they have been able to make a difference, they have been able to save a lot of properties. But then again, the fires are still going on. There's still a chance that the homes that have been saved could be in danger again."

Capcara said for the most part, all residents have left the city, but firefighters have come across some pets while going door to door. 

They've reported that they have been able to make a difference, they have been able to save a lot of properties.- Devin Capcara

He said Strathconca County is working with the province and their firefighters will be there until Monday, at least. New crews will be coming in over the weekend to relieve those who have been there since Tuesday.

He said those who want to help should go through the "proper channels," such as donating to the Red Cross. 

"Please, nobody try to head up there and help out, because it's all being very controlled," he said.

"The last thing we need is for people to go up there who we don't know about, or who the province doesn't know about."

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