At approximately 1 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 22, Eagle River Fire Protection District was dispatched to a report of a vehicle driven into a structure on Norgaard Way in Cordillera. The vehicle was reportedly also on fire, with at least one party trapped inside. Upon arrival, crews found a vehicle that had crashed through the garage door, striking the electric meter, which subsequently caused a fire. The first arriving crew immediately began a rescue operation to remove both parties, working in near-zero visibility. The driver had self-extricated from the vehicle, but was trapped in the garage and was eventually located standing between two vehicles in heavy smoke. He was led to safety by crawling through the other car to an exterior door.
Crews immediately placed a self-contained breathing apparatus on the trapped passenger, allowing her to breathe while crews assessed the best way to conduct the extrication. During the rescue operation, the garage began to collapse, sending debris through the roof of the vehicle, striking a firefighter and the patient. A second crew quickly extinguished the fire and provided ventilation to the garage. Crews were then able to reposition the car in the garage using hydraulic equipment, and removed the patient through the driver’s side door. “Firefighters train relentlessly for dangerous situations,” said ERFPD Fire Chief Karl Bauer. “Every now and then they are confronted with a truly complex, rapidly involving incident that puts all their training to the test in unexpected ways. This was one of those incidents. For all the dangers this incident posed, we are genuinely grateful no one suffered serious injury.”
‘The outcome could have been much different’ — Both individuals were transported to the hospital for smoke inhalation and other minor injuries. A dog that was in the home was taken to a local veterinarian for evaluation and treatment. The structural integrity of the house is currently being evaluated. “The sprinkler system was a key component,” explained ERFPD Community Risk Manager, Tracy LeClair. “It bought firefighters time to get on scene without the fire spreading to the rest of the structure or engulfing the vehicle. Without that extra level of protection, the outcome could have been much different.” Engine 15, Engine 12, Engine 7 and Battalion 7 from ERFPD responded and were assisted by Tower 3 from Vail Fire and Emergency Services, Eagle County Paramedic Services, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, the Colorado State Patrol, Cordillera Public Safety and Vail Public Safety Communications Center.