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'Trying Our Hardest 24 Hours A Day': First Responders Have Removed Over 3 Million Pounds Of Concrete From Condo Collapse Site

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For the first responders at the condo collapse site, the work has been grueling – both physically and emotionally.

It's reduced even the toughest to tears.

"Nothing can ever prepare you for what we witness when we arrived. There's no way to describe it," said Miami-Dade firefighter Eddy Alarcon. "It's an enormous amount of work. The pile is endless. We're working night and day and we're just barely scratching the surface, but I know we're making progress"

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue has been working hard to keep the public informed about what they're doing. They shared video of their efforts Tuesday.

In those clips, you can see this brave group knows how to turn the phrase "leave no stone unturned" into reality.

"That's what we do… just happy to help," said Lt. Douglas Duarte, heavy rigger for MDFR.

And the teams aren't above getting down on all fours to sift through the tiniest pieces of debris. They've even formed bucket brigades to speed up the painstakingly tough task.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Condo Collapse
First responders moving buckets of debris. (Source: Miami-Dade Fire Rescue)

Miami-Dade Search and Rescue, Florida Task Force 1, more than a half dozen other Florida squads and a team from Israel are all looking for signs of life in this relentlessly imposing pile of debris.

"There we're about 20 to 25 people hanging off the balcony all the way up building," said Miami Dade Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Marc Chavers, who was one of the first on scene.

Now search teams working below the building too. Officials say they've already removed about 3 million pounds of concrete, working in 12-hour shifts.

Some images impossible to erase, even once they're off duty.

"You find strollers and baby bottles, toys," said Lt. Duarte. "Brings a sense of reality to the moment."

It's a moment that no one will soon forget.

And for those battling rain, wind, fire and the oppressive heat, their focus remains on the families impacted by this tragedy.

"I couldn't even begin to imagine what they're going through. I just hope that, you know, they do realize that we're here for them. That we're trying our hardest 24 hours a day and we hope to bring them closure," said Duarte.

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