NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Firefighters made a daring rescue on Tuesday morning, saving more than a dozen people, including some who were seriously hurt.
Smoke had engulfed the top floors and firefighters had just moments to get the people to safety.
Cellphone video shows smoke pouring out of a window on the fifth floor of the apartment building on 158th Street and Broadway, startling residents out of their sleep at 4:30 a.m.
“I thought it was the apartment above me. It turned out to be two floors above me. It was just coming out, so I just ran inside, starting waking everybody up,” resident Jorge Escheverria said.
Within minutes dozens of firefighters were on the scene, including Battalion 16’s Abraham Miller, who was up on the roof when he heard calls for help.
“We just tried to find out where those screams were coming from to see if they needed rescues. When we looked over the sides of the building we saw a little girl’s hand on the window guards, and her grandmother was holding her up to try to get her out so she could breath,” Miller said.
Miller and his partner made a split-second decision to perform a rare maneuver — a roof rope rescue.
With nothing to tie onto, his partner held the rope and eased Miller over the edge.
“He lowered me down to the window. We were able to punch through the window and grab the child out of the window,” Miller said.
Officials said the little girl will be fine, but 14 people were hurt, including four seriously.
“Once we removed the victims from the fire they were able to work on these folks and successfully resuscitate them,” Chief of Fire Operations Tom Richardson said.
Two rope rescues were performed at the same time, which is extremely uncommon, but what firefighters train for every week.
“He was very modest about that. They did not have anything to tie off for. If you know a little bit about that, myself, I’ve been in the department for many, many years, that puts another element of risk into that roof rope rescue,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.
Residents are thankful they made it out OK, but now dozens of residents, including some that are elderly, are homeless.
The Red Cross was on the scene making sure everyone had food, clothes and place to stay.
An investigation by FDNY fire marshals revealed the fire was accidental, caused by an overloaded extension cord, Duddridge reported.
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