MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — St. Paul firefighters spent almost three hours trying to extricate two teens from a cave on St. Paul’s West Side early Saturday.

The teens got stuck down a shaft about 100-feet below and could not get back up

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They were not injured and did not need to go to the hospital after being rescued.

(credit: CBS)

St. Paul Fire Assistant Chief Mike Gaede said the boys were OK because a third teen who did not follow them down called police.

If all three teens had went down into the caves, Gaede said their story would have had a very different and tragic ending.

Minnesota’s capitol city has long had a problem with urban explorers, according to Gaede.

(credit: SPFD)

While the city has covered up many of the bluff caves that line the Mississippi River, Gaede said the three teenage boys tried to access caves through a ventilation shaft about 16 inches in diameter.

“They had some flashlights, a few ropes, but nothing to the extent of what they would need for an operation such as that,” Gaede said. “So they got down, realized they were over their head, couldn’t get out by themselves.”

(credit: CBS)

He said the boys tried for several hours to get out on their own, and even pleaded with the third teen up top not to call police.

Eventually, the friend did call police for help at about 1:45 a.m.

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(credit: CBS)

St. Paul’s specialized cave rescue team worked from about 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. to extricate the boys.

“It’s one of the more severe [cases],” Gaede said. “They were in a whole lot of trouble. Luckily for them, the air monitoring was good down there.”

The boys were in a ventilation shaft that brings clean air into the cave.

“That was the intended purpose when those caves were occupied,” Gaede said.

(credit: CBS)

Air quality is one of the biggest threats once people make it down into the caves, according to Gaede.

He said at least two people have died in the caves in the past 15 years, which is why they are all off limits and illegal to enter.

“This is no joke,” Gaede said. “That area is dangerous and almost had dire consequences for those two young individuals.”

Gaede did not say where this happened specifically, because the department does not want anyone else to get any ideas to go exploring.

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The fire department will work with city parks and rec officials to also secure this access point to prevent any future incidents.