Four residents and three police officers were treated for smoke inhalation Thursday night after a trash chute fire forced the evacuation of a 19-story residential high rise in West Philadelphia.
Capturing one daring escape on video, TV news helicopters tracked a man as he scaled down balconies on the side of the building to safety. The man remained unidentified Friday morning.
Firefighters and police responded around 9:30 p.m. to the 4400 block of Holden Street at the Westpark Apartments and found smoke in one of the buildings. The building is part of the Philadelphia Housing Authority development that features a mixture of residencies for families and older adults.
Firefighters and police evacuated the smoke-filled building and went to apartments to assist residents who had problems getting out, some of whom call 911 seeking help, officials said.
Those suffering smoke inhalation were expected to be treated and released.
Officials said the fire was in a trash chute and spread smoke throughout the building.
Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said that the buildings elevators were shut down during the fire and firefighters and police officers had to scale steps in the smoke and heat to reach residents in need of help.
SEPTA several provided buses to give residents a cool place to stay in the steamy night while firefighters works to put out the blaze.
The fire was declared under control at 10:56 p.m. and residents were later allowed to return to the building. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
TV news helicopters circling the tower showed a man climbing down the side of the building. He made it to the ground and appeared to be unhurt, as seen in this NBC 10 video.