A 26-year-old woman today thanked the firefighters who revived her and carried her down 10 flights of stairs after she fell unconscious in her burning Back Bay apartment building on Wednesday afternoon.
Kelly Graling, a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts Boston, said she didn’t recall anything beyond the moment when she tried to push open the door to the roof of her building and passed out from smoke inhalation.
“I remember trying to get out at the roof deck, and not being able to, and thinking, ‘That’s it, that’s it,'” she said today at a news conference just moments after she was released from Massachusetts General Hospital.
“I was just lucky, so lucky.”
Graling, who was revived by firefighters using CPR, said today she was in good condition after spending time in a hyperbaric chamber last night. She had a raspy voice and was still trying to come to terms with the scare she suffered, but expressed her thanks to both firefighters and hospital workers.
Her father, Don Graling of Washington, D.C., flew into the area Wednesday night. He also thanked emergency workers.
“We want to thank you for saving our daughter’s life,” he said.
Firefighters are still investigating the cause of the blaze at the 10-story Beacon Towers building at 483 Beacon St. The building is uninhabitable, and about 125 people have been displaced.
Another resident, Ashley Schofield, said that when she returned to the condo to collect some belongings she was overwhelmed by the odor.
"It's like a campfire, a really large bonfire. ... As soon as you walked in there, it slammed you right in the face, Schofield said in a telephone interview. "That smell, it's going to take forever to get out.''
Schofield and her roommate, Leigh Bauer, lived in a two-bedroom unit on the fourth floor. Both were planning to move out, and Schofield was actually at a truck rental business when she was alerted to the fire.
On Wednesday night, the company that manages the condo allowed the women and other residents back inside to collect some clothing. Bauer summarized what she saw in one sentence: "It's dark, and it's wet and smelled funny.''
Schofield said she loved living in the condo and was heartbroken that so many people she has come to know, even in passing, are faced with the potential of being without a home for an extended time.
"There is definitely a community in that building,'' she said. "We don't have block parties or anything, but you always felt really safe. It was a really nice building to live in. It was really hard to walk in and see what happened.''
Paula Modica, of Modica Associates, the building’s management company, said it could be days before the roughly 125 residents are allowed to return. The building’s electrical units were severely damaged.
While emergency lights and alarms in the common areas are now working, fire and code inspectors continue to assess the safety of the building. Modica said officials hope to soon start allowing residents to return to pick up belongings.
In the meantime, they have been working with realtors to find temporary housing for residents.
“We’re just grateful nobody was hurt badly,” she said.
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