Portland firefighters free wedged woman

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland firefighters had to cut a hole through concrete and use an air bag and a soapy lubricant to free an Oregon woman who fell part of the way down a 20-foot wall and got herself stuck between two buildings this morning.

The woman spent about four hours in a space 8 to 10 inches wide before rescuers managed to free her as television cameras filmed much of the effort.

Lt. Rich Chatman of the Portland Fire Department, wearing a blue helmet and harness, climbed into the hole cut by rescuers to help apply the soapy substance.

After the woman surfaced at 7:30 a.m., she raised her face, clenched her fists and shouted, “Oh, my God.”

Rescuers had built a platform beneath the woman and had turned on a portable heater to keep her warm in temperatures just above freezing.

The air bag was used to spread the walls.

“She was in good spirits,” Chatman said.

“We just tried to reassure her ... we weren’t going home without her.”

Firefighters said they hadn’t gotten a clear explanation of how the woman came to be in the predicament.

Chatman said that witnesses said the woman had been seen smoking or walking on the roof of a two-story building before she fell into the space.

Authorities didn’t immediately identify the woman.

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