Three people were rescued from apartments located above a business that was destroyed by fire Wednesday in downtown Mount Vernon. The cause of the blaze at the Scorz Bar and Grill is under investigation.
George Woodward of Alliant Energy arrived on the scene at 11:30 A.M. to shut off power to the burning building. That’s when he was asked for the use of his bucket truck to rescue two people trapped in an upstairs apartment.
"I shot that bucket up to the window and they both hopped in and I let ’em down," Woodward said shortly after the rescue. "Then, a firefighter was stuck up there. I don’t know if his air ran out or what, but we moved the truck over and did the same thing…shot the bucket up and got him down."
Woodward says there was no safe way for the people to get out of the building – other than a 30 foot jump.
"The smoke was too thick and they couldn’t see," Woodward said. "They had their heads stuck out the window just to get air." After the rescue, several news reporters crowded around Woodward, who was asked if he just saved the lives of three people.
"Well, maybe…it looked like they were thinking about jumping," Woodward said with a nervous laugh, as the gravity of the event sunk in. "It would have been a long jump." A reporter asked if he felt like a hero. "Well, a little bit. Now I do," Woodward said. The Red Cross reports that eight tenants from three apartments were displaced. The fire forced authorities to close Highway 1 through downtown Mount Vernon for several hours. The bar and restaurant had only been open for about two months.