Sadly, one man didn’t make it.
Two teens made an incredible escape from a fatal blaze in a New York high rise that sadly claimed the life of another man.
The drama was all caught on video, as a raging fire took hold of an apartment in the 14-story Jacob Riis Houses at 7 AM Thursday morning.
Neighbors watched in horror as thick smoke and flames billowed out of the open windows, when suddenly, a sign of life: an 18-year-old girl clambered out of the window:
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First responders and bystanders can be seen scrambling below to try catch her in blankets before she fell, as the teen dangled precariously by her arms, four stories above the ground.
Amazingly, the girl is able to hang on, and somehow manages to scramble across to an exterior pipe running the length of the building, and secures a foothold. And she’s not alone: seconds later a boy, her 13-year-old brother, follows her lead, as she reaches back to grab him and pull him across.
The siblings then managed to shimmy down the electrical conduit to safety, one at a time. It took just 42 seconds for the girl to get to the ground, her brother 17 seconds behind her.
“It was terrifying,” eyewitness Christian Cortes, who filmed the drama on his cellphone, told the New York Daily News. “I was praying to God for them to get down safe. She grabbed that pole and she was looking like she was going to let go.”
“Her skin was off her arm, peeling,” another neighbor who was waiting at the bottom told the outlet. “I just put her in the blanket. Me and a police officer carried her to the benches.”
The pair were taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell, where they were described as in stable condition.
Unfortunately, not everybody in the apartment was so lucky. Their 46-year-old mother is currently fighting for her life in critical condition at the same hospital. Her boyfriend was later found dead in the apartment.
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One neighbor said she could here the mom screaming for help as a group of them tried to break into the apartment.
“We tried to kick in the door,” she said. “She couldn’t unlock the door, the mother. She was yelling ‘I can’t get it open!'”
In the end, it took 180 firefighters an hour to quell the blaze.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation; however neighbors say the apartment was packed with electric bikes, which they believe may not only have been the cause, but also a deadly fire hazard impeding escape.
They say the deceased man, who did not live there but frequently visited, was an E-bike mechanic. Fire officials confirmed the presence of several E-bikes in the wreckage, while Cortes said he even saw some being thrown out the window during the fire.
“The room was filled with bikes,” next door neighbor Ada Feliciano told the outlet, having visited the apartment a few days prior. “I said, ‘God forbid there should be a fire. How would you get out?'”
“God forbid, I predicted it,” she added.
Per NY Daily News, fire officials have reported 93 fires caused by lithium bike batteries this year — more than double last year’s total — causing 73 injuries and 4 fatalities.
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