NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two window washers, who became trapped on a scaffold near the 68th floor of One World Trade Center, were rescued and brought to safety Wednesday afternoon.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, the façade maintenance platform on which the window washers were working, called a “vehicle,” was raised to the roof of One World Trade Center Wednesday night as the investigation into the incident began.
The incident began at around 12:45 p.m. on the south side of the building — about 820 feet off the ground at the 68th floor. Initial reports suggested the washers were done cleaning the windows and were about to ascend to the top of the tower when the cable that pulls the scaffold up became loose.
Officials said during a news conference that a slack had developed on the left side of the scaffolding, causing it to tilt dangerously, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.
Scaffold operating contractor Upgrade Services said the slack appeared to be caused by an equipment failure in the traction hoist brake mechanism, which supports one side of the rig.
PHOTOS: Window Washers Rescued At 1 WTC
Images from the scene showed the scaffolding dangling at a precarious angle as emergency responders from the Police and Fire departments, along with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, tried to rescue the workers and secure the dangling scaffold platform.
The expert first responders called to the scene immediately knew they had two options, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported.
“We were either going to go with scaffolding and lower it down to the guys, and they would transfer over to another scaffolding safely. And the other option we were going with, which we were involved with, was there’s three panes of glass and basically cutting the glass away,” said Lt. Billy Ryan with FDNY Rescue One.
Additional safety lines were lowered to the workers along with a radio so they could communicate with the rescue team.
“They reported to us they were OK and they felt secure, and we just kind of told them it would take a few minutes for us to gain access to them,” said Chief Joe Jardin, with FDNY Rescue One.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the men were never in danger of free falling.
“At no time were the people in the scaffold unsecured. They were secured both by their own belts and the ropes by the roof,” Nigro said.
A rescue basket with one officer each from the NYPD and the Port Authority was deployed in an effort to get to the trapped workers, but the FDNY managed to cut through a window and pull them to safety around 2:15 p.m.
Officials said rescuers cut through three layers of glass, two of which were breached using diamond saws.