Crane operator in good condition after dramatic Atlanta helicopter rescue
Pilot, firefighter pluck worker above flames to safety
April 13, 1999
ATLANTA (CNN) -- A crane operator was in good condition Tuesday, after he was whisked above a raging fire to safety, as an enthralled crowd watched.
Construction worker Ivers Sims, 49, was rescued Monday, after Boyd Clines, a Department of Natural Resources helicopter pilot with experience fighting forest fires, lifted firefighter Matt Moseley onto the crane, and Moseley clutched Sims as they all flew about reaching flames to a safe landing.
Sims was rescued just as flames reached the crane.
Spectators, who had lined the streets to watch the perilous rescue, burst into applause.
Sims, an independent contractor from an Alabama construction company, became trapped after an old cotton mill being converted to loft apartments was engulfed in flames.
Dr. Howard Zaleznak of the Atlanta Medical Center said Sims did not have "any obvious significant injuries" after being admitted to the hospital.
According to Zaleznak, Sims wanted two things upon his arrival at the hospital: someone to call his wife and tell her he was OK, and a Coca-Cola.
Moseley said he tried to lighten the tension during the rescue by telling Sims his boss had sent him up there "so he could knock off early".
"It was nerve-racking sitting here on the ground. Waiting is the hardest part. Once you got up there...I won't say instinct, but training and your instinct takes over and you don't think about the rest of this," Moseley said.
Local television stations, CNN and the broadcast networks all carried the dramatic rescue live. Motorists pulled over to the sides of usually congested roads leading into the business district to join crowds of gawkers watching the fast spreading fire and rescue on a brilliantly sunny spring afternoon.
"This gentleman and this firefighter ought to have a heroes parade down Peachtree Street," said one local resident. "This is even better than the World Series, better than the Falcons Championship," he said.
The man was trying to help contain the blaze aboard a crane and got trapped on the crane for more than an hour as the fire raged out of control.
The warehouse was being renovated into residential lofts, a highly touted gentrification project known as the Cotton Mill lofts, designed to rejuvenate one of the city's most blighted districts.
The inside of the brick building was mostly wood, and the wood beams were treated with oil, which may have helped spread the fire in dry, windy conditions.
Televison pictures showed three homes a block away from the warehouse that had caught fire. The roof on one of the homes had been completely destroyed by the blaze.
WSB-TV reported that the fire began as a trash fire in the building and spread very quickly.
Firefighter Moseley said he had only one thought as he dangled high above the fire.
"I hope the rope doesn't break."
Perilous rescue from above Atlanta mill fire
Fulton Cotton Mill Condominiums
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