Firefighters make heroic rescues in East Harlem

February 1, 2010 8:22:21 PM PST
Firefighters raced to the scene of an East Harlem fire and made it just in time to keep residents from jumping from the building.High drama rescues in East Harlem on Monday, as firefighters gave 3 trapped victims a second chance at life.

It was a soft landing for two fire victims, gently pulled to safety by firefighters, just when they thought they would be forced to jump from their 5th floor window.

"They were literally hanging from the window when we arrived on the scene," said a firefighter.

"We just didn't want her to jump, that was the main priority, we decided to tell her to be calm and not to jump," said FDNY Firefighter Alan Grodinch.

It was a fierce race against time in East Harlem Monday, punishing heat and smoke were pushing the 2 victims out the window.

Firefighters raced up their ladders to save them.

New York's bravest beat out tragedy by a mere sliver of seconds.

"We basically reached out and grabbed her and she reached out and jumped into my arms just as quick as she could, and she wouldn't let go of us so when we went to the other side we actually had to push her off a little bit to get to the second victim and pull him into the bucket," explained FDNY Firefighter Artie Kunz.

The flames broke out inside the brownstone building on 127th street and Madison Avenue around 4:20 Monday afternoon.

It was an all hands blaze.

Once firefighters saved the two people on the ledge, more rescue workers would charge into the thick of the smoke where there was zero visibility.

"As long as we felt along the floor we knew our way back to the door and to get down the stairs," said another firefighter.

The woman in her 50's and in cardiac arrest was rushed to the hospital.

Eyewitnesses on the ground, witnessing heros at their best.

"She was hanging on for dear life, and the fire department got the ladder up in time and pulled her up and the crowd went up in a roar, it was a very wonderful experience," said Derrick Taite, an eyewitness.

"She mentioned God a lot, and I think God was with her today," said a firefighter.

Rescue crews were able to revive the woman in cardiac arrest, she's listed in serious condition at Harlem Hospital.

Meantime, residents say they have been complaining about this brownstone, saying that it should have been boarded up, but instead, squatters have moved in.