Dramatic footage shows the moment a man clings to the side of a burning building after climbing out of a sixth-floor window.
As intense smoke billows from a raging blaze at the Barrington Plaza building in Los Angeles, US, a man can be seen hanging precariously as crews desperately try and rescue him.
Deputy Fire Chief Armando Hogan said the man had contemplated leaping from the building before being convinced to hold on by crews responding to the incident. Firefighters were eventually able to pull him to safety.
More than 300 firefighters battled the blaze on Wednesday (local time), which left two people, including a three-month-old baby, in a critical condition.
Firefighters also rescued 15 terrified residents from the rooftop of the 25-storey high-rise apartment building.
There were early reports that other people had jumped from the building, but officials later said that wasn’t true.
A helicopter crew member on the roof helped attach each person to a line and they were hoisted into the hovering chopper one by one. At one point firefighters lifted a small white dog into the helicopter.
“We have rarely done rooftop evacuations for medical purposes. Rarely,” Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said, adding that the strategy was “very effective”.
Six people were taken to hospitals, mostly for smoke inhalation, officials said.
Residents scramble to safety
Room-mates Puja Oza and Dalia Kingsbury got calls and texts from friends about the fire before they heard smoke alarms at around 8.45 am. Still wearing pyjamas, they ran with their golden retriever Seymour from their 16th-floor apartment to the stairwell, which was crowded with neighbours trying to go down and firefighters running up.
At the eighth floor the stairs were slick with water and smoke billowed from a closed door, choking people as they scrambled to get out, Ms Kingsbury said.
“We didn’t know if the fire was going to come out of the door,” she said. “I was shaking the whole time.”
Chief Hogan said the cause of the fire is under investigation, with firefighters looking into the possibility it was deliberately set. “Arson is on the scene doing an investigation,” he said.
Chief Terrazas added, “It is suspicious right now.”
Once Ms Oza and Ms Kingsbury reached safety, the room-mates said they glanced up and saw the man on the edge just before he was rescued.
“He was literally like Spider-Man,” Oza said.
Resident Gavyn Straus, clad only in swim shorts and a towel, said he was in the swimming pool when he looked up and saw smoke. He ran into the building to alert a woman working at the front desk but found she was already calling 911.
Straus said he and a maintenance worker took an elevator to the eighth floor, where they believed the fire was. They then went down to the seventh floor where they opened a door and thick, black smoke came out. Straus said someone came running out covered in soot.
A fire also occurred at the Barrington Plaza high-rise in 2013, injuring several people and displacing more than 100, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Fire officials said then that the building was not equipped with a sprinkler system, the newspaper reported. It was built in 1961 and wasn’t required to have one under state regulations saying buildings taller than 75 feet include such fire-suppression systems unless granted an exemption.
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