Worker Swings Off Top-Floor Balcony To Avoid Massive Apartment Complex Fire
HOUSTON (CBS Houston/AP) — Dramatic video shows a worker being rescued from a burning under-construction Houston apartment complex after flinging himself from a fifth-floor ledge to a lower floor.
Some bystanders Tuesday afternoon videotaped the scene as the roaring fire consumed a planned $50 million luxury complex. Investigators are trying to determine whether the fire was started during welding.
The worker is seen standing on the floor of an incomplete patio. He waves for help as flames draw closer, then dangles his legs over the edge, swings and drops to a fourth-floor ledge.
“Oh my God!” the woman screams in the video. “They need to get him.”
A firefighter on an extension ladder reaches the worker. The worker reaches and crawls to the ladder just moments before a burning section of upper wall collapses next to them.
“Thank you, Jesus. They got him,” the woman in the video said.
The ladder then draws the worker and the firefighter to safety.
All construction workers who had been in the high-rise building were accounted for, and no injuries have been reported. One man was rescued as he prepared to jump to safety, Fire Capt. Ruy Lozano said.
Fire officials said more than 200 emergency personnel battled the fire for 2½ hours at the 396-unit, 4½-acre Axis Apartments project in the city’s hip Montrose district before bringing it under control.
Witnesses said the fire started about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday on the northeastern corner of the roof but spread rapidly through a breezeway.
“There was a report of a couple of guys working on the roof doing welding,” Houston Fire Department Deputy Chief Greg Lewis said. “When our units arrived, there was a small fire and construction workers were attempting to put it out. There was sustained wind of 15 to 20 miles an hour, and it was a wind driven fire.”
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Lozano said.
The department said the blaze that sent thick, black smoke billowing in to the sky prompted the evacuation of nearby buildings.
Firefighters also sprayed nearby houses and apartment buildings with water to prevent heat and embers from spreading the fire. No other buildings were damaged, but plastic fixtures melted on some nearby vehicles.
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