Firefighters make stand to save elementary school as Black Forest Fire closes in

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A small group of firefighters in the Black Forest area dug trenches and fought with backs against a wall to save School In The Woods, officials said. The Black Forest Fire has so far claimed at least 360 other buildings.

A small group of firefighters in the Black Forest area dug trenches and fought with backs against a wall to save School In The Woods, officials said. The Black Forest Fire has so far claimed at least 360 other buildings.

DENVER — A small group of Boulder and Security firefighters made a desperate stand Wednesday to keep the Black Forest Fire from consuming a community’s elementary school, officials said.

School In The Woods, a 78-student school dedicated to “the study of natural science in a natural setting,” was seriously threatened by the blaze when a handful of firefighters on a single fire engine decided that they had to protect it, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said.

“Those guys just decided they were going to take a stand and save that building,” he said. “They had their backs against the building and they fought the fire and pushed it back. They dug a trench and then they were standing there to make sure that school was no longer threatened.”

After a pitched battle, the school was saved, Maketa said.

“They really understood how much of a community asset this is,” said El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn. “I want to personally thank them on behalf of this community.”

That sort of fighting spirit is exactly what the region needs as it faces a deadly, record-setting inferno that remains just 5 percent contained, Maketa said.

“I think those are the kinds of independent decisions among people who had probably never met each other, Security Fire and Boulder, and they decided, ‘Today we are going to win this little battle.’” He said. “And we are starting to see those wins throughout black forest.”