Fire escape collapses as residents escape fire in Jersey City

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Jim Dolan has the story in Jersey City. (WABC)

Residents at an apartment house in New Jersey are lucky to be alive.

The fire escape that was supposed to be a lifesaver nearly turned into a death trap as it fell apart while residents climbed down during a pre-dawn blaze on Monday.

"That was my only chance of getting out," said one of the residents.

Smoke was building his apartment, he said, and the only way out was the fire escape, but that turned out to be just as dangerous as the smoke. "When I stepped there, it gave way and it just fell apart all the way to the bottom," he said.

The damaged fire escape steps and the area where the man had fallen through were still visible Monday night. He had never looked at them until he needed them, but one floor down Vanessa Hancock had.

"When I first moved in to the apartment, that was the first thing that I checked, the fire escape, and we told the management about the fire escape because this is hazardous and somebody could get hurt, anything could happen. So we kept calling the management about the fire escapes and nobody did anything," Hancock said.

When she was awakened Monday morning by the smoke and noise, Hancock knew the fire escape was dangerous. "I already knew not to even come this way ... My options were either out the window or the front door," Hancock said.

But the man in her building did head to the fire escape and it nearly cost him his life.

"I opened the door and these gave way, the whole steps gave way. I thought, 'I am not going to make it', pretty scary," he said.
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fire escapeapartment fireJersey City
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