As a plume of thick black smoke billowed from their burning apartment, a 10-year-old boy dangled a younger child from an open third-floor window, grasping on to the back of his shirt. The apartment’s balcony was engulfed in flames, and the two children appeared trapped.
Then, as onlookers screamed, the older boy dropped the younger one, age 3, into the arms of a group of adults 30 feet below. They caught him.
Moments later, the older boy lowered himself out of the window and jumped into the outstretched arms of those standing below. Both children were unharmed.
The dramatic rescue that unfolded on Tuesday in the French city of Grenoble was caught on video and drew widespread admiration for the quick thinking of the children and the actions of the good Samaritans who broke their fall.
Two of the six adults who appeared to have participated in the rescue broke their arms, according to French news reports. All have been hailed as heroes.
“It is together that they could save the children,” Éric Piolle, the mayor of Grenoble, said in a statement, as he praised the “heroic rescue.”
At least 17 people were injured in the fire in Grenoble, a city of 160,000, according to news reports, and the cause is still being investigated. The two children were hospitalized for smoke inhalation according to French media.
As for the rescuers, they were humble about their roles.
“The children gave us the courage, because they decided to jump,” Athoumani Walid, one of the men whose arm was broken, told France 24.
It is not the first time that a dramatic rescue of a child dangling from an apartment has been caught on camera in France. In May 2018, Mamoudou Gassama, a 22-year-old Malian man, scaled four floors of a Paris building to save a toddler hanging from a balcony. Hailed as the “Spider-Man of the 18th,” for the arrondissement where the rescue unfolded, Mr. Gassama joined the city’s fire brigade after he was granted legal residency in the country.