A 35-year-old man scaled 19 stories to rescue his mother from a fire.
Photo: Philadelphia Fire Departmen
Photo: Philadelphia Fire Departmen

Philadelphia man speaks out after climbing 19-story apartment to save mother from fire

WPVI reported that the man, identified as Jermaine from Philadelphia, got word from his sister that their 65-year-old bedridden mother, Shelia, couldn't get out of her apartment when the Westpark Apartments caught fire Thursday. She was on the 15th floor of the apartment.

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When Jermaine got to the high-rise, he saw that police had the front entrance of the building blocked off.

"They said the elevators are not working. I said, 'No problem. I'll take the steps. I just want to make sure my mother-- my mother is sick, she's bedridden. So I need to get up there," Jermaine told WPVI. "They were like, 'We can't let you in.' I took it upon myself because that's my mother. There's no limits. That's my mother."

WPVI reported that Jermaine had fallen earlier that day and cracked his rib on a set of stairs, but he was determined to get to his mother. According to the news station, Jermaine lived in the complex in the past, so he knew the layout and how to get to his mother from the outside.

"When I grabbed a gate, at the top of the gate, there was a ledge. Then I could step on top of the ledge and reach up to the other gate, and keep climbing my way up," Jermaine said.

Once he got to his mother's balcony, he said she was shocked to see him, but assured him she was OK and that the fire was contained.

"She's not surprised by the things that I do for her," he said. "She knows I'll go over and beyond for her."

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Jermaine scaled back down the building and once he was near the ground, a police officer was there to meet him.

"He told me if I didn't leave I was going straight to jail because that was his job, but, he actually did cut me a break," Jermaine said. "He understood the circumstances, he knew -- when your adrenaline is pumping, and your mom is up there, you thinking she's dying -- you'd do anything you can."

Jermaine's mother made it out of the building, which had 98 of 114 units occupied, safely.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that about 200 residents were evacuated Thursday, according to Westpark Residents Council President Andrea Foster. All but four residents, who were hospitalized for smoke inhalation, returned Friday morning, Foster said.

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