A fire Saturday at a highrise in New York City led to a harrowing rescue as a woman dangled out an apartment window and firefighters swooped in just in time to save her life.
The victim can be seen on video footage captured by nearby resident Amy Bernstein hanging from the 37-floor building while smoke ferociously billowed from the window above her.
Bernstein told WCBS-TV she was working out in her nearby building when she started to smell smoke and saw the unthinkable.
“I went to the window when I saw … about maybe the 16th, 17th floor, a little above me, black smoke … pouring out,” she said. “I saw two women, one hanging out with her upper body and the other climbing out of the window.”
One of the women was fully hanging from the window in a situation that could have been deadly.
Emergency workers with the New York City Fire Department raced to the scene and were able to use ropes to rescue the dangling woman, relying on last-ditch methods to save her.
“Fire EMS and dispatch did an extraordinary job rescuing a number of civilians,” FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said after the incident. “I cannot emphasize enough the extraordinary work of our members this morning in unbelievably dangerous conditions.”
The rescue was widely seen as heroic, with the FDNY later releasing an additional statement explaining the dire nature of the situation, as the front door to the apartment was blocked.
This required a dangerous “herculean team effort” for firefighters to reach and rescue the women.
“The cost of failure is great both to civilians and our members, they expect us to come prepared and we came prepared, we always do,” read an FDNY Instagram post.
Firefighter Artur Podgorski explained how he helped rescue the victim.
“My role was to go under the victim and start to hold her weight, so the member above me could free her arm and I could hold her and bring her safely below,” he said. “It is a team effort, you have to put trust in the members above and below you. This is why we train, when moments like this happen there is no room for mistakes, we fall back on our training.”
Dozens of people were injured during the inferno, with 38 people being transported to the hospital and with two critical injuries due to smoke inhalation.
Five people were in serious condition due to the fire, WABC-TV reported.
The fire is believed to have been caused by a lithium-ion battery, potentially linked to an electric bike.