The first group of Calgary firefighters who helped fight the wildfires in Fort McMurray have returned home with incredible stories.
“In 34 years, I’ve never seen devastation like that,” said Capt. Danny Freeman from Fire Station 1 in Calgary.
“It was happening on so many fronts. It was coming at you all the time.”
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Watch below: Calgary fire fighter Capt. Danny Freeman explains a harrowing ordeal after his truck got stuck and a wall of flame was bearing down on his crew.
Freeman was with the first group of 29 Calgary firefighters sent to help save Fort McMurray–and their first job was the biggest.
“We got the word from command it was coming into downtown, so we set up on the east side of downtown across the river,” Freeman said. “We mustered all our forces there to make sure it didn’t happen. And it didn’t.”
Gallery: Photos from Capt. Danny Freeman, fighting the fires in Fort McMurray
READ MORE: Where Fort McMurray fire evacuees can get help and information
Watch below: Calgary firefighter Capt. Danny Freeman on the difference between fighting a fire in Calgary and the Fort McMurray wildfires.
Capt. Tom Caves helped coordinate the fire defences behind the scenes.
He said they had no water, no power, limited equipment and resources and the hardest decisions were when to evacuate a location.
“The changing winds was a huge one for us. It would be blowing all day in one direction and then all of a sudden it’s coming from a different direction,” Caves said. “There’s nothing firefighters hate to do than to back off and find safe ground. It’s not something that we’re used to, and so it was very hard for us to do.”
Watch below: Calgary firefighter Cpt. Danny Freeman says they stood shoulder to shoulder as they fought the Fort McMurray wildfire.
Both men have helped in other Alberta disasters, but Freeman said they came away from this experience with a new perspective.
“We went to Slave Lake feeling like we were going to help and, wow, we did. They all came and looked after us during the floods and we were back there again looking after ‘Fort Mac.’ It’s about communities; it’s about neighbours.”
Watch below: Calgary firefighter Capt. Danny Freeman talks about how crews have come together not only for Fort McMurray, but in the past for Slave Lake, and southern Alberta during the floods.
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