Caught on camera: Firefighters save worker trapped during massive fire

By Jennifer Bauer - Reporter

HOUSTON - A woman working in a nearby building grabbed her cellphone and recorded the dramatic rescue of a construction worker who was trapped when an apartment complex where he was doing work on went up in flames. 

Karen Jones captured all of the dramatic moments.

At one point the construction worker, whose name has not been released, was forced to jump to the balcony below to escape the flames. He was five stories up and was frantically waving at rescuers.

Senior Captain Brad Hawthorne with the Houston Fire Department was on a ladder truck and was trying to get to him. 

"I said, 'alright...come on,'" Hawthorne said. "He had to make a leap, he kind of jumped and grabbed on.  I said, 'Hang on!'"

Hawthorne and the worker were on the ladder and on their way down to safety, when the top floor of the building collapsed behind them. 

"Within a couple of seconds the roof caved in and the whole fifth floor went out," Hawthorne said. "It was pretty hairy. Just the noise from the fire, the cracking and popping of all that was pretty loud."

At that moment it was evident firefighters got to the worker just in time. 

Hawthorne told Local 2 he never would have successfully completed the rescue if it weren't for his fellow firefighters from Station 18. 

Dwayne Wyble was behind the wheel of truck. It was his job to line the ladder up perfectly which allowed for a safe rescue. 

Both firefighters have more than 25 years experience each, and admit their adrenaline was pumping. 

"This is one of the fastest fires I've ever been to.  It ran the whole roof of the building so fast. Seconds count," said Hawthorne.

"You just don't see five floors of a building burning all at once," Wyble said.

The construction worker's friends told Local 2 he was unharmed and didn't need to go to the hospital.

They were all putting stucco on the walls when the fire started suddenly. 

"The cops and ambulances and everybody say, "Get down!'" said John Valle, one of the workers. "The building was on fire."

Valle said he and most of the other workers were near some scaffolding when the fire started and were able to climb down, but their friend was on a fifth floor balcony and he couldn't get out as fast. 

"He jumped, he jumped," Valle said.

Hawthorne said the trapped worker was very appreciative for the rescue.

"He was good. He was talking to me, he was excited, he was thanking me a lot," Hawthorne said.

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