CONROE, Texas – For the first time since his amazing rescue from the massive apartment fire near Downtown Houston, a construction superintendent is telling his dramatic story of survival.
“It’s what it took to get out of there,” Curtis Reissig recalled standing outside his Conroe home Wednesday.
Reissig’s death-defying drop from a fifth-story balcony was caught on camera, and quickly went viral on the internet.
Reissig said he was in a construction trailer when another worker called him and said one of the buildings in the under-construction apartment complex was on fire.
Reissig, a superintendent on the jobsite, grabbed a fire extinguisher and went to the roof.
He said the fire initially looked small, but grew faster than he ever imagined.
“Still just amazement and, you know, disbelief,” said Reissig.
As the wind pushed the flames through the building, Reissig was trapped.
Now inside, he was looking for a way out of the choking smoke.
“I said, ‘I can’t get fresh air. I’m going to suffocate right here. I’m going to collapse,’” Reissig said.
That’s when he prayed. Seconds later, the trapped construction worker found an opening that led him to the fifth-floor balcony.
“I thought fresh air,” said Reissig. “And then I saw the fire and went, ‘Oh my Gosh. I’m not out of it.”
Witnesses in surrounding buildings caught his frantic waves to firefighters on video.
Then, with flames bearing down on him, Reissig decided to drop to the unfinished balcony below.
“I wanted to take two swings, but I said, no,” Reissig recalled. “I don’t have time. It’s just too hot.”
Finally, firefighters swung their ladder and extended it close enough for the trapped worker to jump to safety.
“He said, ‘C’mon. Let’s go!” Reissig said. “So I said, alright, and jumped out there and away we went.”
But safety was still four stories away.
Eight seconds after he jumped onto the ladder, dramatic video shows the roof of the apartment building collapse and fall toward the rescuers.
“A big surge of heat came from that,” Reissig explained. “It was like, ‘go, go, go! We gotta go!’ Get out of here. Get us down from here.”
As firefighters spent the next several hours battling the blaze, Reissig, with only minor burns to his hands, counted his blessings.
“I said ‘God save me. Get me out of here,” Reissig recalled.
He says he’s amazed by the video he’s seen of the fire and his rescue. But from the safety of his front yard, he insists he only did what it took to save his own skin.
Now grateful, he says, to those who risked their lives to save his.
“The heroes are the firemen,” insisted Reissig. “They’re the heroes. I’m just a guy caught in a bad situation trying to escape.”