INDIANAPOLIS — In a video released by the Indianapolis Fire Department Wednesday afternoon, you can see people watching flames in a 3rd-floor apartment building at East 25th Street and Hillside Avenue.
One by one people came out of their homes to watch. That's when neighbor Pierre Williams saw something that he has only seen in the movies.
"I love my movies," said Wiliams, "But I saw a man jump from up there. I just walked out of the house to go get some cigarettes and I see the smoke. I said 'what the hell?' I see the smoke. I know it ain't no damn barbecue."
Williams and others watched as the fire put their 68-year-old neighbor in a do-or-die situation, three stories up.
"If there is a fire and you are going to live or die, you are going to jump out that window," said Williams.
He watched as the man's neighbors escaped the burning building too, including a woman in her second-story apartment. Williams encouraged them not to go back inside after they talked about trying to go in to get their car keys.
Williams said, "You don't know what could happen to the structure. She eventually got out and everybody got out. Nobody got hurt except the guy that jumped out the window."
An off-duty firefighter also saw the man jump and he ran to help. The firefighter tended to the man's injuries and called 911.
Then, moments before fire trucks arrived, a new concern arose that made everyone take cover as they watched the fire. Williams knew exactly what he was hearing and made sure his mother was out of the line of fire.
"You hear something go 'pop, pop, pop.' It wasn't by a gun it was by the heat of the fire," said Williams, "You knew it was not firecrackers."
Eventually, firefighters extinguished the flames as even more people watched from a safe distance. The 68-year-old who jumped told Williams about cooking.
"He was cooking chicken," Williams said. "He said a grease fire took control of it. He lost control of it."
The 68-year-old also shared with fire officials that after the grease fire started while cooking chicken, he left the kitchen to get a fire extinguisher, but by the time he returned, the flames had spread out of control. Paramedics transported him to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to IFD.
After more than an hour, there was nothing left for the neighbors to watch but smoke from the smoldering building.
"You know that whole thing could have collapsed," said Williams.
He and neighbors then watched firefighters fold up their hoses and load them back onto the fire trucks. Williams knew right away that what he watched unfold was no movie, but real life.
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