The fire was discovered at around 8:50 am, and was reported to the São Paulo Fire Department approximately 15 minutes later, by an occupant of an adjacent building. The first fire units arrived five minutes later, and immediately called for assistance.
Inside, the fire reached the building's only stairwell and climbed as high as the 15th floor. It did not reach any higher because of a lack of flammables in the stairwell, however it filled the stairwell with smoke and heat, making it impassable. Fire crews attempted to gain access to the building using this stairwell, but could not go any higher than the 11th floor (the first floor consisting of business offices)
Approximately three hundred people were evacuated using the elevators, a practice that is not recommended by fire officials. The four elevator operators were only able to make a few trips, however, before conditions within the building made it impossible to continue.
Approximately 170 people went to the roof during the fire, in hopes of being rescued by helicopter. There was, however, no place clear enough or big enough for helicopters to land. Even if such had been put in, the strong heat and dense smoke made approaching the building by helicopter extremely hazardous.
Approximately 80 people hid under the tiles on the roof of the building. They alone were found alive.
Some people had managed to climb out onto ledges, and a few were able to lower themselves from floor to floor, and were then able to climb down the aerial ladders, while being protected from heat, smoke, and flames. Most of the others stayed where they were until rescue teams could gain access to the building. Desperate to escape the threat of the fire, forty people jumped, or fell, off the building. Fire crews tried to persuade them otherwise by waving to them and holding up signs that said, "Remain Calm! The fire is Out!" Still, they jumped in hopes of reaching a ladder, or surviving the fall. All forty of these people wer...