Two separate incidents this week that could have ended badly were handled with amazing poise by two local teenagers who are worthy of recognition.
On Tuesday evening a major structure fire broke out at a home north of Evergreen. As the plume of black smoke mushroomed, 17-year-old neighbor Austin Nelson took notice of the seriousness of the situation and quickly moved into action.
Realizing the homeowner wasn’t at home and that two dogs could be inside, Nelson hopped a fence and ran to open the back door to save the pets trapped inside. He then called 911 and secured the dogs in a safe location.
Unfortunately, the fire couldn’t be contained before ruining the home, but Austin’s quick and brave actions likely saved the lives of those two beloved pets.
Earlier that same morning, 17-year-old Columbia Falls resident Hunter Dana had what can only be described as a harrowing incident.
Hunter was picking huckleberries near Lion Lake by Hungry Horse when he accidentally angered a grizzly bear sow with two 2-year-old cubs. He fired off his bear spray seven times as the sow pursued him all the way around the lake, even clipping his pants with a claw.
“I just did what I could, when I could,” Dana said in an interview with the Hungry Horse News. “I’d just spray her to get her to stop so I could get 20 yards away.”
Luckily, he was uninjured and made it back to his vehicle safely.
U.S. Forest Service spokesperson Janette Turk said Dana followed textbook guidelines in how to be prepared and calmly handle bear encounters.
“Fortunately, this individual was prepared and his preparation was successful,” Turk said.
Good job to both Austin and Hunter for staying levelheaded in two scary situations.