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NYC firefighters perform daring rescues during apartment fire that left 1 dead, 17 injured

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New York firefighters performed a series of daring rescues during a fire at an apartment building that left one person dead Friday and injured more than a dozen others, as people were seen hanging out of windows and fire escapes to get away from the flames and one jumped onto the ground. 

The two-alarm blaze broke out just after 2 p.m. on the third floor of a six-story building located at 149th Street and St. Nicholas Place in Harlem. The flames had spread into the hallways and trapped people in the floors above, fire officials said.

When firefighters arrived, there were “numerous” people on the fire escapes, the New York Fire Department said. 

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“It was so dangerous that firefighters had to make three rope rescues, which is something very unusual for us to do at one fire,” an FDNY official said at a news conference. 

The department performs one rope rescue per year on average, said FDNY Chief of Department John Hodgens, citing the severity of the blaze. 

He said one person jumped out of a window as the flames and smoke spread throughout the building. 

“Unfortunately, due to the severity of this fire, one of the victims had to basically jump out of the window,” he said. “They were hanging there for a little bit and they couldn’t hold on any longer and fell.”

A witness, Michelle Paradis, told FOX 5 NY that she saw the window jumper. 

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“They were on the window sill, and they were trying to escape, but it’s all the way on the top floor … they were hanging onto the window,” she said. “I guess they couldn’t hang on for long, and they fell to the ground.”

Overall, 18 people were injured. Twelve of them were taken to area hospitals. Five of those victims are in critical condition. It was not clear if the person who died was the one who jumped out of a window. 

To save those hanging outside of windows because of the heavy smoke, firefighters performed the rope rescue – where a firefighter is attached to a rope being held from the roof and lowered off the side of a building. 

From there, the firefighter grabs the person trapped and both are lowered to the ground with assistance from the NYPD Special Ops Aviation Unit.

“A very heroic action,” FDNY Chief of Department John Hodgens said of the firefighters’ actions Friday. 

One of the two firefighters involved in the dangerous rescues was a probationary firefighter with less than a year on the job. 

On the upper floors, three people were found unconscious and given life-saving care, said Hodgens. 

The cause of the fire has not been determined. 

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