JFRD rescues workers dangling from downtown high-rise

Men pulled to safety after scaffolding platform breaks free on one end

By Kent Justice - Anchor/reporter, Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Firefighters rescued two men dangling from a high-rise building in downtown Jacksonville early Monday evening, authorities said.

The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department said a special operations team and other crews were called about 5:15 p.m. to the BB&T building on West Forsyth Street after a scaffolding platform broke free on one end.

JFRD said crews secured an anchor point to reach the 17th floor.

Sky 4 aerials showed one man dangling from a harness near the top of the building and another person in the scaffold, which was dangling precariously. Before that, News4Jax was told a third worker was able to get off the scaffolding platform where it was closest to the roof.

WATCH: Sky 4 helicopter captures high-rise rescue

About 5:50 p.m., firefighters were able to pull both men, including James Powers, onto the roof safely.

Just minutes after the rescue, Powers gave a thumbs-up while walking to a car in the parking lot, sometimes arm-in-arm with his colleagues. 

"I was the guy in the yellow raincoat dangling on the side," said Powers, who declined to be interviewed further. "Man, it was crazy. I'm good."

As the rescue unfolded, about a hundred people stood on a corner, staring into the sky for more than 30 minutes and hoping for the best.

"They had it blocked and I was wondering what was going on and then I saw the guy dangling from the building," witness Rennette Isaac said. "I just started praying because that was a scary situation. And then I heard there were two more other guys with him."

Isaac said she was overjoyed when all three were back on solid ground.

"Victory! I was happy, just happy," she said. "I'm about to cry now because I was just happy that, you know, that they were safe because I wouldn't want to see anybody's family like that."

Randy Wyse, president of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters, praised firefighters' quick response.

"This is basically what you train for as a firefighter in special operations," Wyse told News4Jax. 

Police closed all eastbound lanes of Forsyth Street between Hogan and Julia streets during the rescue. Because the scaffolding is still dangling off the side of the BB&T building, the roads remain closed Tuesday morning. 

Powers said he works for Western Specialty Contractors Orlando.

The company with the equipment is ultimately responsible for that scaffolding.

JFRD said firefighters would use chains to secure it to the side of the building overnight to make sure everyone is safe.

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