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Terrifying scene for window washers above Oklahoma City caught on camera

By Ashley Williams, AccuWeather staff writer
May 16, 2019, 5:11:51 PM EDT


Two window washers in Oklahoma City were jolted along on a terrifying ride hundreds of feet up in the air outside of a tall building on Wednesday after the large basket they were working in began "swinging wildly out of control."

The workers were rescued within an hour of when the ordeal began, but at the height of the tense situation, which unfolded after 7:45 a.m. local time, the basket could be seen from the ground swaying rapidly, sometimes crashing into the side of the 50-story Devon Tower skyscraper, with the undoubtedly frightened windows washers inside.

"This is a very dangerous situation, please avoid the area," the Oklahoma City Fire Department tweeted prior to the rescue. Local news teams captured various perspectives of the harrowing situation. KOCO's Sky 5 news chopper caught video of the basket swinging back and forth, smashing into the building and shattering glass. Inside the basket, which was near the top of the building, the workers could be seen holding on for their lives.


It appears from aerial footage of the dramatic scene that the workers were dangling in the basket at nearly the very top of the 844-foot tower. It is not yet known if winds played a role in the sudden swaying of the basket. "There was a wind from the southwest at 7 to 14 mph near ground level," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Paul Walker. "There were no stronger gusts reported at the nearby airports in Oklahoma."

Winds at the height of the swinging basket were likely significantly higher than at the surface, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. It appears that there was a funneling effect that created an eddy of wind between the two spires of the building, he added. Sosnowksi explained that even a mild wind of 15 mph hour at that height could cause the basket to sway the way it did.


Just before 8:30 a.m., fire officials announced on social media that the basket was secured as rescuers worked to get the two window washers out of the basket and to safety. According to The Oklahoman, the basket was out of reach of the fire department's tallest ladders, so firefighters broke out windows on an upper floor after they stopped the basket from swinging, and pulled the workers inside to complete the rescue.

The entire ordeal was over in less than an hour after a number of "tense moments," Benny Fulkerson, a spokesperson for the OCFD said. "So that's pretty quick, actually," he added about the firefighters handling of the emergency. Fulkerson told News9 that he'd never seen a rescue take place at a similar height during his tenure with the fire department.

One of the window washers may have suffered a minor shoulder injury, The Oklahoman reported.

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