MIDTOWN, Manhattan (PIX11) — A fire broke out in a high-rise building in Manhattan Saturday morning and a video captured New York City Fire Department members saving women from the burning building.
A group of four firefighters hung 20 stories in the air on ropes and saved two lives. At the same time, other firefighters rescued dozens more people from the flames.
It’s called a high-rise rescue. Patti Ryan was filming on her cellphone as the FDNY climbed onto ropes and freed a woman hanging from the 20th-floor window.
Patti Ryan, the woman who filmed the video, tweeted: “In my ENTIRE life I have never seen anything more #HEROIC than what I just witnessed from #NYC apt. Woman rescued by #NYBRAVEST #FDNY in the devastating apt fire. Trying to escape smoke, she slipped, hanging 15-20 stories up. THANK U to our heroes!!!!”
The victim hanging outside the window was caught on a child gate. Firefighter Arthur Podgorski was lowered down to grab the woman.
“My role was to go under the victim, take her weight, hold her weight, so the member above me could free her arm,” said Podgorski. “When moments like this happen, there’s no room for mistakes. You have to work together.”
Rescue teams train for it weekly, but firefighters seldom have to perform the maneuver.
“Since 1980, we have more than 50 documented successful life-saving evolutions done in the NYC Fire Department,” said Department Chief Frank Leeb.
More than 38 people sustained injuries of some type, including Jillian Mitchell and her boyfriend, who managed to escape but needed oxygen once on the ground.
“When we opened our front door, smoke was everywhere, and it was really thick,” Mitchell told PIX11 News. “They recommended going to the roof, and we’re like, no, let’s try the other stairwell. When we were in the thick of the smoke, that’s the first and only time in my life that I felt like we weren’t going to make it.”
Jillian has been preparing for the NYC Marathon for eight months, and despite the fire, she still intends to run it now that she has a better understanding of how rapidly life can change.