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I told them crawl up to the next level. Take the halligan and remove some of the sheetrock. Step on the halligan tool, put one hand on the rope and pull yourself up. The next firefighter was larger. The next firefighter, Jeffrey, climbed up, we grabbed on and he just made it. If he needed another inch it would have been tough.
Apparently, a door had opened and held back other debris from reaching them, saving their lives. I asked them where the chief was. He said that he hasn't talked for awhile. Several firefighters made it down four levels from where they had entered the remains of the stairway.
Additional personnel made it to the location. Firefighters used sawzalls and ropes for two hours, but to no avail. We were totally dehydrated. Everybody was yelling to evacuate now. We said a prayer and had to leave. We retraced our steps. When we finally made it back outside, there was a line of firefighters as long as you could see. It took 40 minutes to walk off the pile. We made it to Liberty and West streets and were there for an hour when building 7 collapsed.
When we received an assignment, it was a relief. We are trained to do this job. We focused on the task. The pressure was off thinking of something to do. Let's take care of this problem. It was so discouraging that more of that wasn't going on. I thought guys were being pulled out all over.