TODAY   |  March 26, 2014

Construction worker barely escapes fire

A woman captured a cellphone video of a construction worker trapped by a fast-moving fire in a Houston apartment complex. He was rescued moments before the building started to collapse. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

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>>> and now to a frantic scene in houston. a man trapped on an unfinished balcony of an apartment complex as that building went up in flames. janet shamlian has the story of his narrow escape.

>> oh, my god. do they see him?

>> reporter: frightening moments caught on camera tuesday, as cell phone video captured a five-alarm fire that left a construction worker dangling dangerously from a balcony.

>> oh, my jesus.

>> the worker stood outside the fifth floor as the massive blaze engulfed the $50 million apartment complex still under construction. karen jones works across the street and started recording when she saw the fire.

>> it was very scary. we were all near the windows just people were afraid, you know, people were just wondering, oh, gosh, is this man going to make it? are they going to get to him?

>> the worker waved for help before hanging down and jumping to a lower balcony as the inferno inched ever closer.

>> oh, my god.

>> oh, no, oh, no. oh, my god.

>> i was really just fearful that he wasn't going to make it off of that ledge. and when he jumped and he slipped, we just -- we were frantic.

>> firefighters fought to get a ladder close to the balcony.

>> they need to move that truck up.

>> brad was on the edge of that ladder and made the save.

>> said all right, come on. and he had to make the leap. he kind of jumped and grabbed on and i said hang on.

>> as they finally got him on to the ladder and the building began to crumble. that was horrifying.

>> oh, no! my god!

>> terrifying moments that ended in relief.

>> they got him.

>> for "today," janet shamlian , nbc news, houston.

>> so crazy.

>> unbelievable.

>> unbelievable.

>> inching with death twice. not only missing that waffling, but that jump.

>> did you see the moment where he gives himself a little bit of momentum?

>> he could've fallen backwards.