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Neighbors help rescue men trapped during house fire

By Kevin Lessard, KCFW Reporter, klessard@kcfw.com
Published On: Aug 22 2013 07:12:13 PM MDT
Updated On: Aug 22 2013 08:46:59 PM MDT
KALISPELL, Mont. -

A fire broke out at a Columbia Falls home early Wednesday morning.

Fire Chief Rick Hagen tells NBC Montana it was caused by a campfire that wasn’t put out all the way Tuesday evening.  Ashes and coals reignited the fire, which lit the porch, and eventually the house.

"There was a very high fire load in this house,” Hagen said.  “It went up quickly."

Neighbors we spoke to say they heard a loud bang around 4:45 a.m.

That's when Anne Herzog and her husband Dan went outside to see what was going on.

"I came out after him and I looked off the corner of my deck and you could see flames and embers coming off from a block down the street," Herzog said.

Herzog says she didn't see any fire department of law enforcement officials on scene at the house, so she and her husband began taking action by banging on windows, and just by luck, happened to find the two men were trapped in the basement, saving their lives.

"He tripped over the pallet that was covering the basement window and when he looked down he saw a little bit of a flash of light and told everyone 'be quiet, be quiet,' and everybody stopped talking so he could hear what was going on and they ended up being in the basement."

The Herzogs say it was all luck that led them to that moment -- a moment that saved the men's lives.

"My dad always said do something even if it's wrong,” Herzog said.  “Don't just stand there and wait because people stand there and watch things happen hoping somebody helps and then no one does."

The homeowners and two trapped men told us they're grateful for the help of the Herzogs, and the support they've received from the community.

"We don't want thanks,” Herzog said.  “If someone's in trouble, help, pay it forward."