ATLANTA -- It started with a standing ovation.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed held a ceremony at city hall, Wednesday, to honor the emergency responders who were first on the scene to the I-85 bridge collapse.
"There was no loss of life in the fire or resulting from the collapse of the bridge," Reed said.
It's a remarkable outcome for an overpass that carries 250,000 vehicles a day. When the officers first noticed the thick heavy smoke, they responded without hesitation. Read said that, simultaneously, engine 19 from Atlanta Fire and Rescue arrived on the scene to an intense fire already burning.
PHOTOS: The moment I-85 collapsed
Firefighter Chris Knott said he still has vivid memories of the flames.
"The heat - it was probably one of the hottest things I’ve probably encountered," he said.
Knott was part of engines 19's three-man team. It was the first truck to arrive on scene. He said his training made the difference between life and death.
"We were able to tell it was going to collapse before it collapsed because of our training," Knott said.
PHOTOS: First responders battle massive I-85 fire
Like most humble heroes, Knott gave credit to something higher than himself but was appreciative of the honors he received.
"All this is amazing," he said. "I’m just glad everybody came out safe."
Each team received a certificate of appreciation and posed for a picture with Mayor Reed.
Fire Chief Joel Baker also had words of appreciation for the crews.
"The members of the City of Atlanta Fire Rescue Department showed the world what leadership looks like in a time of crisis and uncertainty," he said.
The ceremony ended with a second round of applause building into a second standing ovation.
On Thursday, the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department will be honored at the White House. Chief Baker, two battalion chiefs --- Douglas Hatcher and James Macklemore -- and captain Arthur Atkins will receive recognition from President Donald Trump on behalf of the department.
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