Firefighters have rescued a man by ladder after he appeared to be preparing to jump from a burning high-rise building in Los Angeles.
Helicopters also plucked people from the roof of the 25-storey apartment block on Wilshire Boulevard in the city’s Brentwood area as terrified residents fled through smoke-choked stairwells to safety.
Seven people, including a three-month-old child, were taken to hospital after the incident.
Firefighters performed CPR on another 30-year-old man who was taken to hospital in grave condition, Capt Scott said.
In addition, two firefighters suffered minor burns as they scrambled to reach the apartment where the blaze began.
“These firefighters were literally driven to their bellies halfway through that hallway,” Capt Scott said.
While the fire was confined to that single floor, the whole multi-storey building was red-tagged as unsafe because of damage and fire protection system not working, Capt Scott said.
All 339 residents would not be allowed back into their homes until later, except with firefighter escorts to retrieve critical medication.
The building owner has rented blocks of hotel rooms to house them, he added.
Resident Cecilee Mathieson said she tried to push past in her rush from her penthouse. When she reached the floor on fire, she could see the orange glow under the door.
“I really thought I was going to die today,” Ms Mathieson said, hours later.
The fire left windows blown out and heavy black smoke or burn marks on three sides of the building. Residents who fled in whatever they were wearing or could quickly get into – some in pyjamas and exercise clothes – gathered on nearby street corners and looked up as helicopters hovered and hoisted rooftop evacuees and a small white dog to safety.