A Black man climbed 15 floors of a Philadelphia building to save his mom from a fire after firefighters blocked the building’s entrance.
A fire crew was called to the scene of the 19-story Westpark Apartments to investigate the fire in the building’s trash chute just before 9:30 p.m. Thursday.
The man who climbed the building and was identified by ABC affiliate WPVI-TV as Jermaine said he learned of the blaze from his sister, who lives in the building.
She called him and told him his mom was stuck inside, and Jermaine rushed to the scene.
When he arrived, he looked around and saw his sister and dozens of cops and firefighters, but not his mother.
He asked officials on the scene if he could go inside the building for his mother, and they told him the elevators weren’t working, that he couldn’t go inside and “they said the whole building was on fire.”
“I don’t know what else to do but go up and get her,” Jermaine told WPVI. “That’s my mother. It’s no limits for my mother.”
Jermaine told the news station he thought he could use wire cutters to open a fenced balcony for firefighters to get inside the building in the 4400 block of Holden Street.
Jermaine said it was only when he climbed the building that he found out firefighters had told his mom and her boyfriend the fire happened below her unit and they were safe to wait on the porch.
But at the time, Jermaine, who had done construction and was used to climbing high-rises, only knew his mother was stuck in a burning building.
“My mother is sick,” he told WPVI. “She’s bedridden.”
He had also heard reports that smoke wafted up to the 19th floor.
“I’m not just going to sit there and let my mom die, and y’all telling me I can’t get in the building,” he told the news station. “I’d rather risk my life falling than let her sit in there and die.”
Jermaine told WPVI cops weren’t happy with him after he climbed back down the same way he went up and he just knew he would be handcuffed, but one of them cut him a break.
Jermaine said he thinks anyone else in that position would have done the same.
“Don’t nobody just want to sit outside and lose they mother,” he said. “While you just sitting there, she up there just dying.”
Jermaine told WPVI he used to live in the building a few years, and he knew how to get to his mom’s unit from the outside. There were several ledges he could climb on the building’s outer structure.
“As kids we used to jump roofs,” he told WPVI. “Glad I had the practice.”
Jermaine’s mother made it out safely, but four other people and three firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation, according to WPVI.
Jermaine told the news station he applied once to be a firefighter but never heard back.