HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — One week ago people inside a High Point apartment building needed help escaping their homes when flames and smoke surrounded them.

“I’m the first one there. I got to do it right, “ said Charles Wilson, a High Point fire equipment operator.

Wilson didn’t think much when the call about an apartment fire came into his station on Feb. 28 just before 10:30 p.m.

When he arrived at the Copper Mill Village Apartments, he knew things were much more critical. 

“I saw a person hanging off the second floor, another hanging out a third. I didn’t know there were four people upstairs,” he said.

The team worked together and put all their training to practical use.

“We got the ladder thrown…about that time, Rescue 1 got there to assist us with the ladder. We threw one to the first floor,” said Firefighter John Gough.

They worked their way up from there. Gough pulled people out of their windows.

Some of the rescues were not easy.

“The third window we went to was the two women with the dog…I didn’t see they were in there. They were climbing in the room and didn’t know I was there until I started talking. She was begging me to get the dog first. I couldn’t do that. I begged her and her spouse to come out and assisted them climbing out the window down the ladder,” Gough said.

Teamwork is what made this situation special.

“Everyone knows their job, and my part in this was no more than anyone else’s. You have to put water on the fire. You have to be able to throw ladders, find out how many people were in there. It’s one big thing. Not just one person,” Gough said.

Captain Charles Jordan has been with the High Point Fire Department for almost 17 years and can’t remember a firefight like this one.

“It’s a once in a career type of fire. I hope to never go through this again,” Jordan said.

If he does, he and his team will be ready

“We train a lot. Sometimes we don’t want to do it. It paid off,” he said.

The last time fire crews made a ladder rescue like this was in 2000.

All five firefighters involved in the rescue at the Copper Village Apartments will be recognized for their heroic work

The fire investigation is ongoing.