Video of a fire at a Harlem high-rise building showed a woman clinging to her window as she walked on the ledge to escape the smoke, and firefighters' daring rescue to save her.
Smoke can be seen pouring out of the windows on the 16th floor of the apartment building, video showed. A fire broke out at the location Tuesday afternoon.
The smoke was apparently too overwhelming for one woman to escape, leaving her trapped inside. She stood on her window's ledge, with nothing keeping her from falling to the ground far below other than a tight grip on the window sill above her head.
"I stayed at the window and tried to calm her down, and tell her not to jump and tell her going to come get her," said FDNY firefighter Brian Quinn, who was at the window the floor above the woman. Quinn said that as he stayed at the window, another team was battling the flames inside and clearing out a path so they could get to the woman.
Firefighters dropped a rope down, but she didn't take it, instead trying to go back into her apartment. With the smoke there still too powerful, she goes back to the window before a member of the FDNY arrives in her home and tries to coax her back inside.
As the woman still was not moving, Quinn repelled down to her from the 17th floor right above her. He put her in a bear hug, but he said it wasn't going to be enough, as the woman was "terrified" and didn't want to move.
"When I got down there, I just tried to grab her, but realized she had a really tight grip on the windowsill. She didn't want to go anywhere," said Quinn. "I tried to calm her down and talk to her and tell her it would be safer to go into the apartment ... I had one arm inside the window and I was holding onto the wall, and I had my other arm around her waist."
After about three minutes, the smoke appeared to die down a bit, and firefighters were able to get the woman inside the building safely.
Residents and bystanders watching the ordeal on the ground applauded the efforts by the FDNY.
"They did what had to be done," said FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro. The department routinely practices the type of rescue seen on Tuesday, the last time they had to use it coming in 2016.
"They train, they train, they train, so even something that's so infrequent, they're able to do it just like that," Nigro said.
The woman was brought to the hospital for smoke inhalation, but is expected to recover and was later released after her harrowing rescue more than 160 above the ground. The firefighters were also not injured, and investigators are looking into the cause of the fire.