Woman gets wedged between buildings

NIGEL DUARA
Last updated 08:06 17/01/2013

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Firefighters in the US have cut a hole through concrete and used an air bag and a soapy lubricant to free an Oregon woman who fell and became stuck in a narrow opening between two buildings.

The woman spent about four hours in a space 20 to 25 centimetres wide. TV news shows broadcast footage of the rescue effort and showed the woman eventually emerging from the space.

The woman raised her face, clenched her fists and shouted, "Oh, my God."

Firefighters said they hadn't gotten a clear explanation of how the woman got into the predicament. Lieutenant Rich Chatman of the Portland fire department said she had been seen smoking or walking on the roof of a two-storey building before she fell about three or four metres

The woman was wedged about a metre above the ground before rescuers installed braces to support her.

Firefighters turned on a portable heater to keep her warm in near-freezing temperatures while they dropped an air bag into the opening to slightly spread the walls.

"She was in good spirits," Chatman said. "We just tried to reassure her ... we weren't going home without her."

After rescuers cut a window-size opening in the concrete wall, Chatman climbed in to help apply the soapy substance. The woman then wiggled toward the hole as the rescue team tugged on her.

She was taken to hospital and appeared to be in good health, fire Lieutenant Damon Simmons said.

The department's Urban Search and Rescue unit who extricated the woman train for situations such as building collapses and none of the tactics used were improvised, Simmons said.

"They're ready for when the big earthquake hits," he said.

The unit in recent years has dealt with people who have fallen into sinkholes. But today's incident was the first time firefighters had come across someone stuck exactly like the woman was, Simmons said.

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- AP

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