Updated: October 28, 2020 10:45 PM
Created: October 28, 2020 10:41 PM
Making his usual coffee run in Golden Valley Wednesday morning, Jack Graven knew something was very wrong when he saw the flames.
"I looked over the tree line and I saw some black smoke, and I was thinking, seems a little odd, 8:30 in the morning, no one's having a bonfire."
In fact, it was much worse.
"We looked up and across this wetland, we saw this two-story townhome fully engulfed," recalls Al Lundstrom, the Golden Valley Park Maintenance Supervisor.
He and park crew leader Bob Theland didn't hesitate.
"We both just immediately looked at each other, jumped in our vehicles and called 911 on the way over there," Lundstrom says.
Graven, too, quickly realized how serious the situation was.
"I see the whole back of this townhome engulfed," he says. "The smoke was coming out of windows, the glass was shattering. It was crazy. Never seen anything like this before."
All three men converged on the townhome that was ablaze and spotted a trio of men, frozen to the spot, seemingly in shock.
And the flames were getting closer.
"They had made it to the landing area," Lundstrom remembers. "For some reason, they stopped at that point, not quite sure why. They looked a little shocked, a little dazed."
An entire section of the building was being quickly consumed.
One of the men, an older gentleman, was unable to move.
So the three rescuers jumped into action.
"Carried him over to the other side of the garages, away from the fire," Theland says. "Covered him up with blankets, so he'd stay warm and comfortable."
As luck would have it, Graven's truck was still filled with clothes from a weekend hunting trip.
"Gave 'em all jackets, hats, socks, whatever they needed 'cos they were in shorts and tee shirts, not prepared for this," he explained.
The fire gutted two townhomes and damaged a third.
The three men were transported to the hospital, safe from the flames.
"I'd hope that anybody would do it," Theland says quietly. "And like I say, the true heroes are the police and the firemen."
Lundstrom says none of the victims appeared to have physical injuries or burns.
He did say all three appeared to be badly shaken up and may have suffered from smoke inhalation.
Investigators are looking for a cause.
The fire chief says without those good Samaritans, there may have been deaths.
Three lives saved by three perfect strangers, who didn't hesitate to do the right thing.
"You don't want to say what could have happened but like I said I was in the right place at the right time," Graven says. "And thank those other two gentlemen for helping out too."
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