Dramatic Escape From Apartment Blaze

Two Tri-State college students say they're fortunate to be alive after their apartment caught fire, and even more fortunate to be alive after going through with their desperate escape plan.

Amon Oscar and Georgina Roeser were asleep when the fifth floor of their apartment complex in Westwood went up in flames. Within seconds of waking up, they had to make a decision; would they try to escape through a smoke and fire filled hallway, or from their balcony?

"At that time I believed it was the only choice," Oscar says, "and the best choice for me was to go through the window."

They didn't think twice about it. After waiting to be rescued on the balcony, they say for ten minutes, Oscar and Roeser decided the smoke was coming in too quickly and they couldn't wait any longer.

"What came into my mind," Oscar says, "I know that if I'm going to stay here for just one minute, probably I'm going to be dead."

They decided to jump. Oscar took Roeser's hands, and held her over the balcony. Both say they fully intended to fall all five stories.

"He was holding my hands," Roeser says, "he didn't let me go straight down as we had planned. He was asking me, 'are you ready, do you think you can go?' And people were shouting, the firemen were shouting, 'don't jump, don't jump.'"

But Oscar let go. And instead of falling to the ground, Roeser landed on her feet in the fourth floor balcony. So Oscar followed her down. Then they both dropped to the third floor balcony, where fire fighters rescued them.

"I don't even know how I did it," Roeser says. "I'm a very lazy person in terms of exercising, but yesterday I think I was like a monkey."

While Roeser could laugh about the situation, some of her neighbors were angry it took so long for firefighters to rescue them. But they're not angry at the fire department.

"For several minutes no one could get to them," Chris Wenzel says. "Actually they didn't get to them, because the ladder truck couldn't get to them."

Oscar and Roeser's apartment is just one of several buildings in a complex. The road that leads to it is a circle drive, and one side is designated as a fire lane. But neighbors say Sunday morning, there were several cars parked there. So it took much longer than usual for all the fire trucks to get to the building. Neighbors say it's a miracle no one was killed.

"Every second counts," Wenzel says, "and when you can't get, especially, the big ladder trucks to the fifth floor and last night in this case it was the center of the building, you're trapped."