There were three groups of Boy Scouts in the 17 Mile Cave when it filled with smoke early Saturday morning but, it wasn’t their fire. The scouts say a group of young men entered the cave while they were sleeping and played loud music and spray painted the walls before leaving. The first scout troop left, and the young men came back an hour later.
“They were awakened by the sound of wood being dropped through the entrance,” Clarke Farrer, Scout Executive for the Grand Teton Council Boy Scouts, said. “They said there was a loud noise. They didn’t know what it was so they got up to find out what was going on. They saw bundles of firewood being thrown down inside the cave.”
The group built a fire inside the cave and began cooking hot dogs and drinking.
“The scout leaders went over to them and said that there was scouts there,” Farrer said. “And that they were bothering them and that the smoke from their fire was filling the cave and kids didn’t care.”
That’s when the other two scout troops decided to call 9-1-1 and evacuate.
“The real sad part about the story is that the EMS person told the scout leaders that if either they had remained asleep or if they had stayed in that cave much longer that it’s possible all of them could have been overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning and it could have been deadly,” Farrer said.
The scouts say the boys will likely remember this camping trip more than others. But it has also cautioned some from camping in the popular cave.
“I do think that some people will probably at least think twice if not not go there at all because of these small group of young men ruined it for everybody,” Farrer said. “It’s really too bad.”
The members of the group that started the fire have been identified. The incident is currently under investigation to determine if there was any criminal act.