June 1, 2023

DARBY, MT – A Darby area woman is lucky to be alive after firefighters from the Darby Volunteer Fire Department rescued her from inside a smoke-filled, windowless, survivalist-type concrete home when a large woodpile in the garage caught fire.

The woman, who was in her 30s, was lying on the bedroom floor just minutes away from passing out due to smoke inhalation when firefighters somehow found her through the thick black smoke and carried her to safety.

According to Darby Volunteer Fire Department Chief Marc Snavely, the call was one of the most challenging his crew has ever been on.

“It was a structure fire, a private residence, about 10 or 12 miles south of Darby, way up Rye Creek and Burnt Fork Road on top of a hill with six or seven switchbacks,” he explained. “It was either Sunday or Monday, I can’t remember. They all start to run together. We had to back the trucks up just to make the corners. When we got there, everything was concrete. The walls were concrete, the roof was concrete and there were no windows. It was kind of an oval house, all concrete, like a bunker, survivalist-type. We had trouble entering the house. There were steel doors and everything was really secure. There were big wrought-iron gates that were dead-bolted from the inside, and then the house had metal doors with two deadbolts. We had trouble making entry.”

As firefighters tried to put out the fire through the big metal doors, foaming the fire, a neighbor came up and said there might be someone inside.

“So we got into the garage and were putting out the fire in there,” Snavely said. “There were no windows, and so the smoke had nowhere to go, so it was filling the house. It was super hot in there. There was no way for the smoke to vent. I had a couple guys do a search, but they were not able to see anything because of the smoke. And they got back near the bedroom and they could hear her hollering for help, so they picked her up and brought her out.”

Snavely said the woman started going into convulsions when she got outside.

“Another 20 minutes and she would have been done,” he said. “She was in bad shape.”

Snavely said there was a pile of half-rounds of wood stacked in the garage that caught fire somehow.

“There was enough stuff in there that it started working the steel beams,” he said. “It was hot. We assume she was in bed and the smoke got in there and filled the house, and she rolled off the bed and fell to the floor.”

Snavely said the cause of the fire is unknown, but he was proud of his crew.

“I haven’t looked at the call times yet, but we got there pretty fast for how far away it was,” he said

%d bloggers like this: