Lessons learned in school and the Girl Scouts were put to good use Wednesday by two 13-year-old Brooklyn Park girls who helped firefighters avert a major fire.
Sara Austin and Darlene Calvert were strolling through the neighborhood at about noon when they smelled smoke on Patrick Henry Drive.
"A lot of people smelled it, but we went to find out where it was coming from," said Darlene.
Their noses led them to a wooded area behind Matthews Avenue, where they found a fire blazing.
"It was as high as the trees," said Darlene, daughter of Donna and William Calvert. "I've never been that close to a fire."
Sara ran to a neighbor's house and called the operator. When firefighters arrived, they asked the girls to lead them to the scene.
"It was pretty exciting," said Sara, daughter of Darlene Austin.
It took firefighters nearly three hours to extinguish the blaze.
Fire department officials commended the girls for calling them. "They told us we called just in time," said Sara. "If we had waited another minute, the fire might have spread to [a nearby] landfill and the oil tanks."
Although they said they were scared, both girls said they'd help firefighters again.
The girls, who will be eighth-graders at Brooklyn Park-Lindale Junior High this fall, say they were taught how to stay cool in an emergency -- Sara as a member of Girl Scout Troop 738 and Darlene at school.
After they got home, the girls called their friends to tell them about an exciting start to their summer vacation, but their tale was scoffed at.
"They just didn't believe us," said Darlene. "Maybe when they see it in the paper they'll change their minds."