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Firefighters battle flames, even as ice pellets hit their faces in sub-zero weather

An image of Cameron Fire Chief Mitch Hansen illustrates just how dedicated emergency responders really are.
Credit: Assistant Cameron Fire Chief Bimbo Gifford

CHETEK, Wis. — Can we give our firefighters a raise? Seriously!

Firefighters in western Wisconsin fought a house fire Wednesday while the polar vortex was causing wind chills of 50 degrees below zero.

Cameron fire crews were battling a house fire in Chetek, Wisconsin, when the temperatures were getting so cold that their gloves and outer gear were freezing.

"It's like you're in a giant body cast," Village of Cameron Assistant Fire Chief Bimbo Gifford told 10News.

Gifford and his colleagues were dispatched to a fire that started in a garage and quickly spread to an entire house -- causing a family with children to lose everything.

Photo Gallery: Lake Michigan froze and looks like another planet

As the firefighters worked to control the flames, water from their hoses was literally turning into ice pellets and hitting them in the face. In situations like that one, Gifford says crews can't shut off the hoses because the water needs to be constantly circulating in freezing conditions.

Credit: Cameron Assistant Fire Chief Bimbo Gifford

"Firefighters are dedicated. We're like a different breed," Gifford said.

Gifford says he's not a very good photographer, but he just had to capture an image of Fire Chief Mitch Hansen who -- along with the others -- battled the fire despite the conditions.

The picture has since gone viral.

Gifford says since his gloves were frozen, he had to get somebody else to pull them off just so he could snap the image.

A fundraising page has been set up for the family who escaped the fire with only the clothes on their back.

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