TACOMA, Wash. - Tacoma firefighters had to break through lath, plaster and brick early Tuesday morning to extricate a 24-year-old man trapped in an old, 14-inch wide chimney. It’s not entirely clear how he got in there, or why.
911 got the call a little after 1:30 a.m.
When the first engine crew arrived, they called in Tacoma’s confined space technical rescue team.
The man apparently got to the chimney from an attic space above the third-floor apartment where he was living – but he fell to the level of the second floor before getting wedged.
Firefighters broke through the wall of Brian Crick’s second floor apartment to get at the chimney and release the stuck man.
Crick shot some cellphone video of the rescuers, which appeared first on KIRO 7, but police ordered Crick to leave his own apartment and then briefly handcuffed him to get him to comply.
Still, Crick saw the man following the rescue.
“I saw him walk out of my door covered in ash,” Crick told KIRO 7. “But he was walking, he seemed fine, he was talking.”
This happened in an old house near the corner of North J and Sixth in Tacoma.
The building has been converted into five apartments, and the chimney doesn’t extend above the roof anymore, so it’s not working.
The building’s owner, Jeremy Williams, said the only access is from an attic space where tenants are not supposed to go.
He did say U.S. Marshals had damaged the ceiling of the top floor apartment a couple of months ago. They’d been seeking someone on a warrant, but apparently ended up at the wrong house. He figures the man who got stuck must have gotten into the attic through that hole.
Williams said the man was not on the lease as a tenant and says he will likely be evicted.
Now, Williams is wondering who’s going to pay for all the damage.
"I guess I've got to head down to the fire headquarters and talk to them about it,” said Williams. “I don't expect anything good, all these city and government agencies always tear stuff up and they leave the property owners with the bill, most of the time."