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Denver fire crews helped 29 people escape flash flooding Sunday

Kids rescued from 38th and Blake on Aug 7 2022
Posted at 11:05 AM, Aug 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-08 19:22:39-04

DENVER — Firefighters in Denver helped to rescue 29 people during Sunday evening's flooding in the city.

The heavy rain storm that moved across the Front Range Sunday afternoon into the evening resulted in flash flooding along many community streets, as well as larger thoroughfares, like Interstate 70.

READ MORE: How much rain fell around the Front Range Sunday evening?

The Denver Fire Department reported 78 calls for service between 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, nine of which came from people stranded in standing water.

Firefighters rescued the most people from vehicles stuck at I-70 and York Street. In total, 11 individuals, including three children, were helped to safety.

In addition, eight people were rescued from an incapacitated minivan along the underpass at 38th and Blake. Firefighters rescued multiple children, including an infant.

A video of this rescue is below.

Video: Denver firefighter rescues 2 children from flooding

Eli Espinoza said he watched the rescue with his brother after they pulled over. As they wondered what they could do to help, firefighters arrived and immediately went into the water toward the minivan, where the family was on top of their car.

"They're sitting on top of their car just waiting to be rescued," he said.

"(The firefighters) didn't hesitate," he continued. "And that's what the true hero is."

Espinoza said the firefighters were calm and worked to keep the children calm.

The video shows a firefighter walking backward out of the water with two children on his shoulders. He was walking backward because he was wearing fins.

"Put them both on his shoulder," Espinoza said. "No hesitation, just walking back... And it was just like, natural instinct."

Meanwhile, a second firefighter closer to the minivan was rescuing a newborn.

Once everybody was away from the water, a last firefighter at the minivan walked back toward the group with a pizza — which had been in the car — in his hands.

"He was like, 'We have dinner,'" Espinoza said. "And it was just a funny little joke. And it had everyone smiling."

The DFD also reported that three people were helped from E. 46th Avenue and Washington Street, one person was assisted at E. 23rd Avenue and Colorado Boulevard, and others self-extricated. Lastly, six people were helped from E. 14th Avenue and Krameria Street.

Nobody was injured in any of these rescues, the DFD said.

Denver fire crews helped 29 people escape flash flooding Sunday

Lt. JD Chism with the DFD said this is what they train for. He explained that firefighters train to stay physically fit for a range of reasons, but including in case they need to lift another person out of flood waters. They train for water rescues every Sunday, he said.

"It's a demanding career to be in the fire service," Chism said. "There's also a bit of adrenaline going when you're in that cold water, and you're asked to move those two kids out."

He said firefighters are trained to read how a child feels in an emergency situation so they can appropriately react.

"Sometimes... you're going to come across a child who's incredibly calm," he said. "And you're surprised by the situation. And other times, you're going to have a kid that's frantic. Anybody who's a parent, or who has spent a lot of time with children, knows: The calmer we can be when we're talking to them (and) the calmer we can be to distract them from the actual events that are taking place, then we can get them to a safer environment."

He said the children rescued from 38th and Blake were "being super brave" and were "some tough kiddos."

While firefighters helped these people to safety, Chism said the department was impressed by the bravery of civilians who helped to rescue others.

"The amazing thing was it wasn't just these firefighters. We have reports of multiple, multiple locations where we had citizens helping citizens and people helping one another get out," he said. "And so, it was a great showing from everybody in the City of Denver to try to help everybody out in that environment."

Click here for a live blog from Sunday.