WATCH: Man climbs 15 stories down outside of high-rise to escape fire, smoke

A man descended 15 stories on the outside of a Philadelphia high rise to escape a fire Thursday. (NBC Philadelphia)

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WTHR) - As firefighters searched for residents trapped in a smoky Philadelphia high rise, one man took matters into his own hands.

Residents had been evacuated from the apartment fire that was reported at 9:30 p.m. Thursday. As firefighters went floor-to-floor searching for others to rescue, NBC Philadelphia's helicopter pilot spotted a man making his own escape.

The unidentified man climbed down the outside of the building, descending about 200 feet to safety. He used a chain link fence and the railings for each apartment unit to make his way to the ground.

Police officers helped him down from one final balcony and the man walked away. The pilot later captured video of the man embracing several people in a grassy area outside the building.

The man did not appear to be hurt.

Firefighters said the fire started in a trash chute, sending smoke throughout the building. Residents on the ground searched frantically for loved ones as firefighters conducted their rescue operation.