Migrant hailed after saving wheelchair-bound man from burning building in Spain

MADRID: Spanish authorities said on Wednesday (Dec 11) they are considering giving residency to an undocumented migrant from Senegal after he rescued a wheelchair-bound man from a burning, second-storey apartment.

Street vendor Gorgui Lamine Sow was walking the streets of the coastal city of Denia on Friday when he heard screams coming from nearby.

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He rushed over to a crowd watching black smoke pouring out of a second floor window. "They told me there was a man trapped inside the apartment," the 20-year-old told Reuters. "I didn't think about it. I just dropped my things and started climbing."

Gorgui Lamine Sow, the man who saved his neighbour from a burning apartment. (Roberta Etter/via REUTERS)

He scaled the balcony, entering the burning apartment as smoke filled the street. Once inside he hoisted the resident over his shoulders and carried him down a ladder set up by a neighbour.

Local media identified the victim as 39-year-old Alex Caudeli Webster.

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"If Gorgui had not pulled Alex to safety when he did then Alex would not have survived," neighbour Roberta Etter said. "Gorgui literally saved his life."

As emergency officials neared the scene, the rescuer panicked. "If the police saw me they would confiscate my goods," said Sow, who lives with his girlfriend and seven-month-old daughter in the nearby city of Gandia. "And if they take them from me, we're not eating tomorrow."

After ensuring the man he had rescued was okay, he picked up the bracelets and necklaces he was selling and left the scene.

The story of the dramatic rescue made waves across the country, drawing comparisons with the migrant from Mali who last year scaled a Paris apartment block to save a boy dangling from a fourth-floor balcony.

Others depicted Sow as a counterpoint to the anti-immigrant messaging being pushed by far-right party Vox, which surged to third place in parliament in last month's national elections.

Sow found out days lateRead More – Source