The Seattle Times. Winner of Eight Pulitzer Prizes.


Fri, Aug 1, 2014

WEATHER | TRAFFIC

VIEW SECTIONS

Home


Updated Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 03:31 PM

Rescuers free woman wedged between 2 buildings in Portland

By NIGEL DUARA
Associated Press

Portland firefighters cut a hole through concrete and used an air bag and a soapy lubricant to free an Oregon woman who fell and became stuck in a narrow opening between two buildings Wednesday morning.

The woman spent about four hours in a space 8 to 10 inches wide. Local and national cable news broadcast footage of the rescue effort and showed the woman emerging from the space at about 7:30 a.m.

The woman raised her face, clenched her fists and shouted, "Oh, my God."

Firefighters said they hadn't gotten a clear explanation of how the woman got into the predicament. Lt. Rich Chatman of the Portland fire department said she had been seen smoking or walking on the roof of a two-story building before she fell about 10 to 12 feet.

The woman was wedged about four feet above the ground before rescuers installed braces to support her. Firefighters turned on a portable heater to keep her warm in near-freezing temperatures while they dropped an air bag into the opening to slightly spread the walls.

"She was in good spirits," Chatman said. "We just tried to reassure her ... we weren't going home without her."

After rescuers cut a window-size opening in the concrete wall, Chatman climbed in to help apply the soapy substance. The woman then wiggled toward the hole as the rescue team tugged on her.

"It was so tight, it wasn't until the last foot that she could actually see me," Chatman said. "She had that look in her eye that she was coming out no matter what."

She was taken to the Oregon Health & Science University hospital and appeared to be in good health, fire Lt. Damon Simmons said. Because she's a patient, the department won't release her name unless she gives her consent, he said.

The department's Urban Search and Rescue unit who extricated the woman train for situations such as building collapses and none of the tactics used Wednesday were improvised, Simmons said.

"They're ready for when the big earthquake hits," he said.

The unit in recent years has dealt with people who have fallen into sinkholes. But Wednesday's incident was the first time firefighters had come across someone stuck exactly like the woman was, Simmons said.

"She was just so relieved," Chatman said. "She'd been there for over three hours against two cold slabs of concrete.

"Right before she went out to the ambulance, we were able to get a little hug in there."

---

Reach reporter Nigel Duara on Facebook at http://bit.ly/RSmBei


BRENT WOJAHN / AP
A woman is rescued after being trapped inside a wall of the parking garage at the Gretchen Kafoury Commons in SW Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. Portland firefighters worked for over three and a half hours to cut her free.




DON RYAN / AP
Building maintenance man Josh Granados measures where two holes cut by rescuers to free a woman who fell part of the way down a 20-foot wall and got stuck between two buildings in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. The woman spent about four hours in a space less than a foot wide Wednesday morning. In addition to the an air bag, rescuers also cut a hole and used a soapy substance to lubricate the concrete block walls to remove the woman.




SECTIONS

Top News arrow

Latest News arrow

Local arrow

Nation & World arrow

Business & Technology arrow

Editorial & Opinion arrow

Sports arrow

Entertainment arrow

Living arrow

Travel & Outdoors arrow

Obituaries arrow


CLASSIFIEDS

Jobs arrow

Autos arrow

Homes & Rentals arrow

More Classifieds arrow