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Los Angeles

Firefighters rescue man by ladder as he attempts to flee burning high-rise building in LA

Seven people, including a three-month-old child, were taken to hospital after the incident.

featureimage (2) A Los Angeles Fire Department firefighter on a ladder rescues a man from the outside of the building Jenna Fabian Jenna Fabian

FIREFIGHTERS HAVE RESCUED a man by ladder after he appeared to be preparing to jump from a burning high-rise building in Los Angeles.

Helicopters also plucked people from the roof of the 25-storey apartment block on Wilshire Boulevard in the city’s Brentwood area as terrified residents fled through smoke-choked stairwells to safety.

Seven people, including a three-month-old child, were taken to hospital after the incident.

Fire captain Erik Scott told reporters that a 30-year-old man who was clinging to a building ledge due to the intense heat from the burning apartment next to him – and who appeared ready to jump until firefighters calmed him down – is in hospital in a critical condition.

Firefighters performed CPR on another 30-year-old man who was taken to hospital in grave condition, Scott said.

In addition, two firefighters suffered minor burns as they scrambled to reach the apartment where the blaze began.

“These firefighters were literally driven to their bellies halfway through that hallway,” Scott said.

The fire erupted on the sixth floor of a building that lacked fire sprinklers and had suffered another fire seven years ago. However, it passed a fire inspection in June.

While the fire was confined to that single floor, the whole multi-storey building was red-tagged as unsafe because of damage and fire protection system not working, Scott said.

All 339 residents would not be allowed back into their homes until later, except with firefighter escorts to retrieve critical medication.

The building owner has rented blocks of hotel rooms to house them, he added.

Residents described a frightening flight to safety, as they tried to move down crowded stairwells that forced some to turn back and go to the roof. Firefighters were coming up the stairs as people with children, pets and some elderly tenants moved slowly downward.

Resident Cecilee Mathieson said she tried to push past in her rush from her penthouse. When she reached the floor on fire, she could see the orange glow under the door.

“I really thought I was going to die today,” Mathieson said, hours later.

The fire left windows blown out and heavy black smoke or burn marks on three sides of the building.

Residents who fled in whatever they were wearing or could quickly get into – some in pyjamas and exercise clothes – gathered on nearby street corners and looked up as helicopters hovered and hoisted rooftop evacuees and a small white dog to safety.

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