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Terrified Residents Run to Roof in High-Rise Blaze

6 are hospitalized in Los Angeles, 2 with critical injuries
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 29, 2020 2:45 PM CST

Los Angeles firefighters rescued 15 terrified residents from the rooftop of a 25-story high-rise apartment building where a windswept fire broke out on the sixth floor and sent choking smoke billowing through the upper levels Wednesday morning, the AP reports. Two people were critically injured, authorities said. There were early reports that some people had jumped from the building, but officials later said that wasn’t true. Inflatable air cushions were ready on the ground in case of jumpers, CBS Los Angeles reports. 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," Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said. "Rarely." Deputy Fire Chief Armando Hogan said the fire was put out shortly before 10am, about 90 minutes after firefighters responded. Eight people were injured, including a 3-month-old infant, mostly due to smoke inhalation; six of them were taken to hospitals, including the two adults with critical injuries. Hogan said the cause of the fire is under investigation, with firefighters looking into the possibility it was deliberately set. Terrazas added, "It is suspicious right now." Hogan said one man was hanging onto the edge of the building contemplating jumping; eyewitness video shows him scaling the side of the West LA building before firefighters managed to talk him out of it and pull him to safety, per NBC Los Angeles. "He was literally like Spider-Man," said a resident.

(More fire stories.)

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