Uber Driver Rescues People From Burning Building. "Flames Were Shooting Out."

"Can We Stop and Help?"

When was the last time you took Uber? Today? Yesterday? Last week? Do you remember your driver? Some of them are better than the 5-star rating you tend to give them for not speaking to you and keeping their personal call to a minimum while delivering you to the destination. An ordinary trip to the airport took a wild and heroic turn for a New York City Uber driver and his passenger last week. While en route, Fritz Sam, 54, noticed some commotion in front of a Brooklyn brownstone. He realized it was a fire and that he had to act. Read on to find out what happened next.

1
"Can We Stop and Help?"

Uber/Twitter

Sam had picked up his passenger, Jemimah James Wei, around 8 am on Wednesday. They were headed to LaGuardia airport for Wei's 10 am flight when it was clear a detour was necessary. "Five minutes into the ride, we're passing this block and I noticed that there's some activity going on in front of a brownstone," Sam told the Washington Post. "I realized it was a fire." As he approached the home, he saw that a second-floor window was completely engulfed in flames. Although his passenger had a flight to catch, Sam turned to her and asked: "Can we stop and help?" "Obviously!" Wei told him.

2
"It Looked Serious"

Jemimah James Wei/Twitter

It was clear the situation was dire. "Flames were shooting out of the building. There were glass shards everywhere," Wei told the Post. "It looked really bad." "From the outside, it looked serious," said Sam. "I could imagine what it must have looked like in the apartment."

3
"I Had to do Something"

Shutterstock

A crowd was milling on the sidewalk nearby, and people were panicking. Some people rushed out of the burning building, but it was unclear whether anyone was left inside. Sam decided he would go in and find out. "I felt like I had a responsibility to do this," Sam told the Post. "I had to do something. It's not my family, but it's someone else's family. If it was my family, and I wasn't able to be there, I would hope that somebody else would go in and help them."

4
Woman Refused to Leave

Shutterstock

When Sam got inside, he saw one man who was rushing to retrieve something from another floor. He also saw a woman at the top of the smoky staircase. She refused to evacuate. "I think she was in shock, and she didn't want to leave," said Sam. "It took a little bit of negotiating." He told the woman he wouldn't leave without her. Soon she agreed to go with him. As he helped her down the stairs, "you could hear stuff crackling and popping," he added.

5
Cause of Fire Under Investigation

Shutterstock

It all happened fast: About six minutes after Sam pulled up outside, the building was empty, and firefighters arrived. Thankfully, no one was hurt. The cause of the fire is unclear; it's being investigated. "It was quite an experience," Sam said.

6
Hero Gets Deserved Recognition—And a Tesla

Fritz Sam

And talk about going above and beyond: Sam even got Wei to her 10 am flight on time. Her tweet about Sam went viral over the weekend. "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 fire truck came, we rushed to airport, I made my flight. NEW YORK," she wrote. As for Sam, Uber commended him and said it was giving him a free one-year Tesla rental. 

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more
Filed Under
 •