Uber driver Fritz Sam is being hailed a “hero” by the company’s CEO after he sprang into action and helped evacuate residents from a burning building in New York City.
Sam was driving his passenger, Jemimah Wei, through Brooklyn to the airport around 8 a.m. on Wednesday when they came across a four-story brownstone on Classon Avenue that was on fire, he told CNN.
Sam said he noticed flames coming out of a second-floor apartment window but did not see any first responders at the scene yet, so he felt compelled to help. With permission from his passenger, Sam parked his car and ran towards the fire.
Wei soon followed him and along with the help of other neighbors, they began to yell “fire” to wake up any sleeping residents who were still in the building. When Sam asked neighbors if anyone else was in the building, he did not get a definite answer so without giving it a second thought, he ran into the building to check for any remaining residents, he told CNN.
At this point, the fire was still contained to a second-floor apartment, so Sam was able to navigate the building with his mind set on evacuating any remaining residents before the fire got worse, Sam said.
He located a woman on the second floor and a man on the first floor and accompanied both to safety, he told CNN.
According to both Sam and Wei, firefighters arrived shortly after the last resident exited the building. Sam comforted the residents and made sure they were OK before returning to his car to finish the ride he had started.
The day also had a happy ending for Wei, who took to Twitter to praise Sam.
“On the way to the airport this morning and drove by a burning building, my Uber driver LEAPT out of the car and INTO the building while the rest of us screamed at the top of our lungs for people to evacuate, the first truck came, we rushed to the airport, I made my flight,” Wei posted on Twitter.
On Thursday, Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi also acknowledged Sam’s act of heroism on Twitter.
“‘I spoke to this Uber hero – he was thankful that someone helped move his car – all the while he was the one who ran into the building!” he posted.
Sam, who’s a long-time Brooklyn resident and father of two, said he has been driving with Uber since 2015.
He told CNN he’s glad everyone made it out safely and that his passenger was able to make her flight.
Authorities told CNN no one was injured in the fire and it’s currently under investigation.
Stephanie Fox, a spokesperson with the Red Cross told CNN the organization is currently helping 11 residents who were impacted by the fire get back on their feet.