Officials: Neighbors helped quench Miller Ranch blaze
May 10, 2014
EDWARDS — Alan Brown, 52, was standing outside his condo complex in Edwards' Miller Ranch neighborhood when a fire alarm started wailing.
"I knew it wasn't my smoke alarm, that it was the building alarm," Brown said. "I looked and some kids came, telling me there was a fire."
He walked around the building, expecting maybe a false alarm or a small flame at best. Instead, he saw 4-feet high flames, spread across what he estimates as 25 feet of vegetation, shooting up from the side of his neighbor's condo.
"I had so much adrenaline running through my body at that point. I ran right back into the house and grabbed two fire extinguishers," he said.
He called 911, grabbed a bucket and hose and ran back outside, where other neighbors had already arrived with other water hoses and buckets. By the time the fire department arrived, Brown said the flames were largely subdued but still red hot.
Besides burning the vegetation, the fire damaged the siding of the condo complex, broke some windows and left some smoke damage. Fire officials said the fire would have been much worse had Brown and other neighbors not taken action.
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"There were high winds that day, so if they had not done what they did, we would have had a large structure fire," said Gail McFarland of the Eagle River Fire Protection District.
Seeing Another Side
Brown unexpectedly saw another side of public safety that day when he found himself in handcuffs in the back of a police car. According to him, he was standing around the building as the fire department finished their work, when he got into a disagreement with a sheriff's officer.
The officer told him he was interfering with the investigation, and the conversation escalated until the officer handcuffed Brown and put him into the police vehicle.
"The fire chief called me a hero, and another fire department guy told me I had saved the building. So I was a hero until I got handcuffed," said Brown.
Another officer came over and cleared up the situation, and Brown was let go. He said he doesn't believe he faces any charges due to the incident. The Eagle County Sheriff's Office did not respond to inquiries regarding Brown.
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and at email@example.com.