Aspen firefighters rescue men in pipe
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – Aspen firefighters scrambled to a manhole on Maroon Creek Road on Monday morning to rescue two men who were working in a water pipe, unaware water was rising inside it.
“They were fine,” said Fire Chief Darryl Grob. In fact, he said, the men didn’t know they were the focus of a rescue until a couple of firefighters yelled down the pipe to them from an Aspen Water Department hydro-electric plant, located farther up the road, to the southwest.
The men entered the pipe at a manhole located in the road at the bottom of the hill beyond Aspen Highlands. From that point, they had maneuvered uphill inside the 20-inch diameter pipe and were unaware that water had begun to flow in the pipe below them, according to Grob.
A water department employee, keeping watch at the manhole, spied the flowing water and called for assistance.
Firefighters pumped out the pipe and the men returned to the manhole, emerging unscathed, according to Grob.
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“They simply came back down the pipe and came out,” he said.
The pair were employed by a private company, hired to do repair work inside the water pipe, which taps Maroon Creek and helps provide Aspen’s municipal water supply.
The men were trapped, as there was no way to escape the pipe by continuing to move forward inside it toward the hydro-electric plant, according to Grob. Valves closed off the pipe from above, clearing it of water so they could work inside.
The water department is investigating the source of the water, said Phil Overeynder, utilities and environmental initiatives director for the city.