Two maintenance workers trapped on a broken scaffold dangling outside the top of the 46-story Hearst Tower were pulled to safety in dramatic fashion Wednesday afternoon.
The middle motor on the scaffolding lost power while the workers were servicing the window-washing equipment, according to sources, causing the V-shaped buckling of the structure.
The technicians for Tractel Harness were left dangling on the scaffolding 500 feet above Eighth Avenue on 57th Street when firefighters and NYPD emergency service unit officers were called to the scene shortly after 2:30 p.m.
Rescuers removed windows on the 44th floor of the building and brought the workers in through the open space. Emergency workers had dropped down additional safety harnesses to the trapped workers, who were already strapped in with their own lines.
"We were just worried about getting them, making sure they were on their ropes and just getting them in," said firefighter Tom Gayron.
The workers had been in no danger of falling, according to FDNY Assistant Chief William Seelig. The 90-minute rescue consisted of several technical operations, including cutting open the heavy glass in the building.
The two workers -- identified by law enforcement sources as Victor Carabello, 26, of the Bronx, and Stephen Schmidt, 49, of Brooklyn -- underwent a medical evaluation once they were brought inside. Moses Nelson, one of the attending FDNY paramedics, said the workers were fine and in good spirits.
"They were all smiles, thankfully," said Nelson. "No major injuries, no complaints."
The men declined medical aid and were not transported to the hospital.
Seelig said the high-angle rescue was "not an everyday event, but it's not something new to us," noting that FDNY's Rescue 1, who were among the responders, are highly skilled in all aspects of technical rescue and are trained on an ongoing basis.
The scaffold failure will be investigated by the city Department of Buildings and state Department of Labor, fire officials said.
Streets around the building below were closed to traffic and some businesses were evacuated as a precaution. Pedestrians and witnesses were transfixed as they watched the rescue unfold.
"It's just scary," said Lorraine Knox. "You see people dangling on the 45th floor -- it's scary."