Construction worker rescued during yesterday's massive Montrose fire talks about brush with death

The worker videotaped in a daring rescue speaks out about those harrowing moments he thought may be his last
March 26, 2014 5:14:44 PM PDT
It was the breath-taking rescue caught on camera; the seemingly calm construction worker being pulled to safety as a massive fire at a Montrose apartment building under construction raged behind him.

The day after that dramatic rescue, construction worker Curtis Reissig opened up about those moments on the ledge and once he knew he was safe.

"It's burning my eyes, my throat. I can't breathe and I can't hardly see anything," said Reissig. "I could see a window. I went to that window, trying to open that window in a panic. I couldn't get the thing open. Smoke was getting heavier, just trying to get some air. I said I have to get some air. At that point, I said, I'm going to die right here. I said, 'God, you have to help me. You got to help me out here.'"

He saw a way out, only it was five stories above ground. Video of him standing on a balcony was captured by workers in a nearby building.

"It was very intense obviously, you know," said Reissig. "I was considering falling."

The fire was so intense, he felt his skin burning. He told Eyewitness News he only had one chance to get away and one swing to make it to the balcony below.

"I really wanted a second swing, but the flames were getting so intense, I had to drop," he said.

The drop knocked him off his feet and just inches from the edge.

Sr. Fire captain Hawthorn was on a ladder truck making his way to Reissig.

"They swung it around," said Reissig. "Got to me and at that point, I was worried because it was extended out so far that it may not hold both of us out there."

Reissig made the leap and got on the ladder. Seconds later, the burning roof collapsed and began falling feet away from him and the captain.

"I realize how lucky it was, how close it was," said Reissig.

More than 24 hours later, he showed us his wounds. He had blisters on his hands and ear from the fire.

His wife was still emotional and thankful that the love her life made it home.

"Your adrenaline is just flowing," Kim Reissig said. "And you're just so scared and you're relieved that he's OK. There's so many emotions."

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