ESTACADA, OR (KPTV) - Firefighters say a woman survived a fall into a septic tank, where she was trapped for as many as three days.
"In my entire career, I can't imagine another time this has happened," Division Chief Richard Anderson said.
The woman, who doesn't want to be publicly identified, was found inside the front yard tank by her daughter around 3 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, according to Anderson.
"She hadn't been heard from by her family for a couple days, over the weekend, so the family decided to drive up and check on her - and that's when they found her down in the tank and called 911 to get us started to go up there," Anderson said.
When firefighters arrived, Anderson said the woman was found about three feet underground and was lying in sewage.
"We could see her in the tank, we could communicate with her," he said. "We just really needed to get some resources there."
A Technical Rescue Team from Clackamas was called in to assist, Anderson said, and within a half hour of the 911 call being placed the woman was out.
"She was alert enough that she was able to grab onto the "D-handle" of one of our tools and set herself up a little bit. And then, they were able to get a strap around her and they were able to lift her out of there with that," Anderson said.
According to the Division Chief, the woman didn't appear to be hurt but a LifeFlight helicopter took her to an area hospital to be checked out for possible infections and limited oxygen.
The woman's home, located a few miles northeast of Estacada, is along a rural road where septic tanks are common.
Firefighters believe the woman had been doing some maintenance work when she fell in.
"There was a tractor on site, a hole had been dug to expose the tank, and it looked like she had fallen through the lid - but we're a little bit unsure on how she actually ended up down into the tank," Anderson said.
However it happened, firefighters said if you're doing a DIY project, it's a good idea to have someone else around or call a professional.
A neighbor told a FOX 12 reporter he had spoken to the woman's family and anticipates the woman will make a full recovery and return home by next week.
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