Heroes braved flames

Kicking down doors is harder than it looks. Running into a burning building isn’t much fun, either.

Sylvan Lake volunteer firemen collect hoses after fighting a blaze that destroyed a home on Rg. Rd. 20 about 200 metres south of Hwy 11 Wednesday morning.

Kicking down doors is harder than it looks. Running into a burning building isn’t much fun, either.

But that’s exactly the brew building contractor John Brown, 47 of Rocky Mountain House, and his co-worker and friend Sheldon Friesen, 31 of Leslieville, found themselves in on the way home from an Oilers game last Wednesday.

It was a little past 1 a.m., and the men were driving home on Hwy 11, just west of Sylvan Lake, when they saw a car parked on the side of the road and two young men beside it. Behind the car, the men could see the glow from flames licking up the side and over the roof of a two-storey home.

The two teens, Chris Rowe, 19 and his 16-year-old brother Steven, both from Eckville, had called 9-1-1 and were checking the Range Road sign so they could give accurate directions to emergency crews.

It looked to Brown as if everyone in the house was asleep. He and Friesen pulled into the yard and ran up to the house, beating on its doors and walls to try and wake up the people inside.

When no one came to the door, Brown decided to kick it open. He had to boot it a couple of times before the deadbolt finally let go.

Friesen said he followed Brown in after the door gave way.

He had gone up the stairs and then come back to the main floor when a man asked what was going on.

“I said, ‘Your house is on fire, you’ve got to get out.’”

Friesen said he never felt that he was in danger. He’s just thankful to have played a role in helping the family escape from their burning home.

“You don’t think about it. I don’t think of it as a real big thing. It’s something you had to do.”

Brown and Friesen were full of compliments for the Rowes for their quick and decisive action.

Neither have had any contact so far with the people who own the house and 40-acre horse farm.

All four humans, along with two dogs and two cats, were able to safely escape the burning home.


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