L.A. high-rise fire: Residents recount neighbors’ harrowing rescue
Two residents of the Barrington Plaza apartments, where an 11th-floor fire last week sent black smoke billowing into the halls above, described their harrowing rescue of a man and his granddaughter after finding them trapped in a stairwell.
Both residents, who live in separate apartments, told KTLA-TV Wednesday that they too were trapped by the heavy smoke. One of them, Pamela Day, said that by the time she heard the fire alarm on the 23rd floor, “it was too late.”
“It felt like 9/11,” she said.
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As Day searched in heavy smoke for a way out of the building, fellow resident Sasha Poparic received a text message from a neighbor to check for his 2-year-old daughter. The father was trapped outside, helpless as firefighters battled the blaze.
With a wet cloth over his mouth to help protect against the thick smoke that forced him to rely mostly on touch to navigate, Poparic told KTLA he couldn’t find anyone in the neighbor’s apartment. But the father sent another text message, imploring him to check again.
All the while, Poparic was yelling back and forth beween their balconies with Day about how to get out. She suggested they get to the roof.
Eventually, they came across the daughter trapped -- and not breathing -- with her grandfather in a smoke-filled stairwell on the 23rd floor.
“I just jumped on the girl and performed CPR for the first time in my life, and started blowing in her mouth and her nose,” Poparic said. The girl, who was not identified, then opened her eyes and started coughing up blood, he said.
“They looked like death,” Day said.
Day and Poparic were eventually able to get everyone onto the roof of the Wilshire Boulevard building, where they were rescued by firefighters.
The pair told KTLA that they did not consider themselves heroes -- they were residents trying to escape who stumbled into a situation where they ended up being the rescuers.
The young girl and her grandfather were taken to a local hospital, where they were expected to recover. No deaths were reported in the fire, which forced hundreds to evacuate while more than 200 firefighters responded.
“The whole thing happened so fast,” Poparic said.
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