TODAY   |  March 27, 2014

Worker rescued from fire: ‘I knew I was in trouble’

Curtis Reissig, the construction worker who narrowly escaped a burning building in Houston, joins TODAY along with the firefighters who saved him to recount the harrowing incident. Reissig thanks them for their heroism, saying, “I shouldn’t even be here.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're back at 7:41 with that dramatic rescue in houston we first showed you on wednesday. curtis became trapped on tuesday as a raging five-alarm fire spread through an apartment complex with nowhere to go. he was forced to make a daring drop from a fifth floor ledge to a balcony below. moments later, he made a daring leap to a waiting fire truck ladder and seconds later the building begins to collapse. he's here this morning with firefighters brad hawthorne and dwayne wyble. how incredible is that to see how close you came?

>> i saw the flames coming from the front side of the building but i didn't realize it had reached to that magnitude around the back side and the corner. basically i was on the last corner of the building that didn't burn.

>> you're a supervisor. little did you know how fast it was moving. at what point did you realize i'm trapped, there's no way out?

>> actually, i got up there with a fire extinguisher and tried to slow it down for them to get there and it was pretty well contained. it want spreading at that point and i went down actually below and looked and it want spreading and i -- my boss actually called me, david harrison called me and said where are you at? i said i'm up here. he said you need to get down now. that's when i saw the smoke that had it started to spread and from there i knew i was in trouble, want going to be easy to get out.

>> you found the balcony and then there's that moment you swing to the fourth floor. what's going through your mind or is it all instinct at that point?

>> it was pretty much a survival instinct , yes. the heat was so intense. these guys can tell but the heat. that was the on option.

>> brad, let me bring you in here. you're at the end of the ladder there, you bring it close thanks to dwayne 's most excellent driving to get it in that spot. did you tell curtis jump or did he just lean towards you in that moment?

>> i told him to hold up for a second, get the ladder at the right angle and all. he held up. he was very calm, cool and i waved him on and he made a leap for it and i told him to hang on, it was going to be a little jerky on the way down.

>> and we see just seconds later, the building starts to come down. dwayne , you're the driver, you have this great reputation as a great driver in houston.

>> thank you.

>> you swung that ladder just in time.

>> look curtis said, we had no idea there was that much fire and how fast it moved. but i new ones he was on the end of it, i knew captain hawthorne was in a position to protect both of them and i could move it away as quickly as possible. but it surprised every one of us how quickly it came down after they were on there.

>> these firefighters say, curtis , you were very calm and collected. did you feel that wayin si inside?

>> i think i was super focused to make sure it turned out right.

>> what would you want to say?

>> i was running away from the inferno trying to save myself, these guys run to and into infernos trying to save other people. i shouldn't even be here. these guys, they deserve all the praise and accolades. we're happy with you all here this morning.

>> curtis , did you really stay at work for the rest of the day and evening?

>> sure, yeah.

>> other people might have gone home and taken the rest of the day off. it's good to have you here. appreciate it.