It started off as a normal day.
David Lagge and Bryce Myers, linemen based out of Mountain View Electric Association’s operations center in Falcon, CO, worked side-by-side outdoors, handling routine meter maintenance. The two were in the midst of a resealing project when they first saw it.
“We noticed black smoke,” Lagge says.
At first, the men weren’t sure what to make of the billowing stack as it crept toward the broad-day sky. They entertained the possibility that the smoke could have been coming from outdoor equipment somewhere in the distance. But, they couldn’t ignore the more frightful possibility.
“We decided if it was a fire, we better get down in there,” Lagge recalls, adding that he and Myers thought it best to shut down power if flames had already started eating through the dry, forest-like terrain that covered them from all sides.
The men jumped into their service truck and headed toward the rising dark cloud. As they drew near, Lagge and Myers’ original fears amplified as they gazed upon a mobilized crew of firefighters frantically battling a blaze that had gotten out of control and was burning rapidly throughout the landscape.
“We asked the firemen what we could do to help,” Lagge says.
Seeing that the firefighters couldn’t afford to turn away from the blaze for more than a few moments, the linemens’ attention shifted to the direction the flames were moving. The fire began to whip toward a host of residential areas where people sat indoors, unaware of the imminent threat at their doorstep.
Lagge and Myers leapt into action. They recall sprinting door to door, warning bystanders of the fast-approaching flames and leaving red ribbons at home entrances, to let authorities know which households had been alerted.
Sirens began to echo in the distance, and the linemen knew it was only a matter of time before the area they were canvassing could be engulfed in the blaze. Some of those who answered their doors were unaware of what was happening, and a portion of people who began evacuating the area stopped short upon realizing flames had already jumped their main access road.
Read more about the heroic linemen in the September-October 2013 issue of Basin Today: An act of heroism: Colorado linemen warn residents as Black Forest Fire blazes.