Residents Escape Pennsylvania High-Rise Fire


Firefighters said neighbors helped their fellow neighbors evacuate after flames shot from the ninth floor of the Eleanor Roosevelt high rise building in Aliquippa.

"(Other) residents said there were flames shooting out, so I immediately ran seven flights of stairs and started knocking on doors on the ninth floor and screaming for tenants to get out," resident Ursula Riggings said.

Melvin Thompson said he heard people across the hall knocking on doors and telling everyone to get out.

"(They were) hollering, 'Get out! Get out!' I got up and (saw) all the black smoke. We made sure people on our floor were out, and then we started running down the stairs," Thompson said.

Residents said about 50 of them scrambled to safety.

Firefighters said they were able to keep the flames from spreading. They said they confined the blaze to one apartment on the ninth floor.

"We got (the fire) under control eventually, but the (sprinkler) caused a lot of water damage throughout the building. (There was) water damage from nine down; from nine up, we have smoke damage," Aliquippa Fire Chief Dave Foringer said.

Firefighters and tenants said they all worked to get all the residents out, even carrying some who are wheel chair-bound.

"We all do that around here, look out for each other if somebody doesn't get out. We made sure a couple of people who weren't physically able, to go ahead and get out, you know as much as we could," Thompson said.

Residents said they are waiting for a bus to take them to a Salvation Army shelter.

"Everyone got out safely. Despite the tragedy, it's still a good day -- we all breathing," Thompson said.

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