UTAH COUNTY — “That was the longest 15 minutes of my year,” said Randy Crowther, Utah County Deputy Fire Marshal.
That’s because Crowther was part of the Rapid Intervention Team deployed to find three firefighters who were trapped under a collapsed garage roof.
It started around 4 a.m. Friday when homeowners in Hobble Creek Canyon were awoken by their house sprinkler system. They were able to call 911, grab their pets and get out of the burning home.
Springville firefighters arrived on scene to find flames shooting out of the windows. They attacked the fire from both the outside and inside the building.
Crowther says multiple other agencies including Springville police officers and Utah County sheriff’s were also on scene when the mayday call was sent out.
Three firefighters became trapped under a collapsed roof in the garage. One of the men was pinned by construction materials. Crowther says The Rapid Intervention Team had difficulty getting through all debris to locate the fallen firefighters.
That’s when the officers and sheriff’s went to back of the house. “We had to force entry through doors and windows. We had to add another hose attack to cool off that area so that rescuers could get in there without additional injuries. And then they had to kind of push and pull and cut and lift and unpin those firefighters from their situation and then drag them out to where they could be treated for their injuries.” Crowther said.
“For 15 minutes, I’m sure it seemed forever for us. For them being trapped, and being on bottled air with limited time frames, that was even longer for those fellows,” Crowther said. “Fortunately, the officers without fire gear only suffered smoke inhalation and cuts and bruises.”
The trapped firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation, one was flown by medical helicopter for treatment. Another fighter was taken to the hospital with a leg injury.
Fire officials say they suspect the fire started in the chimney pipes of a wood burning stove. Crowther said these type of pipes need to be inspected on a regular basis to make sure ash, soot and oils are building up which can spark. He says once a year is best, but at least every two years.
The 7,000 square foot home is a total loss with damaged estimated at 1-million dollars.
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