Man Leaps to Death From California Apartment Fire

A resident of a burning oceanfront high-rise apartment jumped to his death from an 18th-story balcony, authorities said.

A crowd of about 25 to 50 people saw the man leap off the building late Wednesday, said firefighter Will Nash, a spokesman for the Long Beach Fire Department.

"There was heavy amount of fire coming out of his apartment and he had no where else to go," Nash said.

Craig Dodd, a freelance news videographer, captured the incident on tape.

"He was calling for help several times, and obviously the fire department was doing a great job, moving as quickly as they could. But unfortunately he had no choice at that point," Dodd told KNBC-TV.

The fire was reported shortly after 9:30 p.m. and was knocked down within an hour. The flames, Nash said, appeared to have been restricted largely to the victim's apartment. No other injuries were reported.

The building, called Galaxy Towers, was built in the late 1960s, and did not have sprinklers, Nash said.

"It was grandfathered in, and didn't require sprinklers," Nash said. "There were smoke detectors."

The building's X-shaped architecture, with only four units per floor and no long hallways, helped keep the flames from spreading and allowed firefighters to more easily evacuate residents from upper floors.

About 70 firefighters responded to the scene.

The death and cause of the fire were under investigation.

Long Beach, a populous seaside city, is located about 25 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.