PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Residents tell Eyewitness News a man seen scaling down a 19-story building after a reported fire was not escaping the flames, he was actually climbing the building to check on his mother. The report of a fire in a trash chute at the Philadelphia high-rise was followed by a dramatic scene that played out high above ground.
Chopper 3 was there as a man scaled the side of the Holden Tower on the 4400 block of Holden Street in West Powelton, around 9:30 p.m. The man climbed with a crowd of onlookers, firefighters and police watching from below.
“That Spider-Man guy, he’s a true hero because you see how those gates set up? Every time he was slipping, my heart would jump. We were just so nervous and everything. We were telling everybody to calm down, don’t scream or nothing because you might scare him,” one witness said.
It was originally believed the man was escaping the flames, but residents of the building say the man does not live there and was actually there to check on his mother who lives on the 16th floor. They say the man climbed the building after police did not let him inside.
Several onlookers told Eyewitness News on camera they were nervous because he had slipped a few times on his way down. When he reached the ground people said he spoke to police for a brief second and then left the scene.
There did not appear to be any significant smoke or flames at the time. It turns out that the cause was from a trash fire, which sent flames through trash chutes and spread smoke to the floors and hallways.
“SEPTA buses were on location and we put some of the evacuees on the buses where the air conditioning was on in the buses so SEPTA helped us out,” said Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small. “There was a recreation center in a nearby building that had air conditioning to house individuals that were temporarily evacuated.”
Everyone was allowed back into the building on Friday morning.
Officials say four people were taken to the hospital and were treated for smoke inhalation. Police say three officers were also taken to the hospital where they were treated for smoke inhalation and were released.
CBS3’s Dan Koob contributed to this report.