AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – An Aurora woman says she is alive after making the life or death decision to jump from a fourth story window of her apartment building during the deadly fire there earlier this week.
Alina Raffa was trapped inside her apartment late Monday night as flames started to fill the Fitz Apartments building. The 22-year-old was on the phone when she noticed orange flashes of light outside her window.
“It was flames pouring out of the third floor window for the hallway, the glass was shattered,” Raffa said. “The smoke was just pouring out. It was pitch black. I was starting to cough and choke and it was in my eyes.”
She made her way to the window.
“So I yelled at somebody, ‘Look, I’m going to break my legs, there’s no way I can do this.’ Then the smoke got thicker and I was thinking, ‘I’m either going to pass out and die in this apartment or I just need to jump.’ “
She did. Her plan was scale her way down the building window by window but got knocked off balance and hit the ground.
“I laid there for a little bit. It was the most agonizing pain I’ve experienced in my life.”
She was met by a woman who came to her rescue by moving her from outside the burning building.
“She picked me up and carried me across the parking lot and set me down in another part of the parking lot with my head on her lap and stroked my hair until the EMT’s came,” she said.
Raffa is now recovering in the hospital with two broken feet. She says she wants to find the woman who helped her so she can say “thank you.”
“I do intend to find out her name and thank her because it was a kind gesture.”
A Laotian couple was killed in the fire and investigators say more people could have easily died. There were many other neighbors who also sprang into action to help. Some grabbed a canopy and ordered others on the third and fourth floor to jump. A child inside was dropped into the arms of neighbors.
Several residents at the apartments reported seeing a bald man running through the hallways emptying out a canister of gasoline. Aurora fire is investigating those reports and are trying to determine if a security camera on the building has any helpful surveillance footage.