The photograph, which is part of a series, shows 19-year-old Diana Bryant and her 2-year-old goddaughter Tiare Jones falling from the collapsed fire escape of a burning apartment building on Marlborough Street in Boston on July 22, 1975.
A 19-year-old and her2-year-old niece and goddaughter are hurled off a collapsing fire escape during an apartment fire on Marlborough Street. The two waited with firefighter Robert O’Neil for a rescue ladder to reach them.
The tillerman of the first fire engine to arrive at the scene, Robert O'Neill, asked 19-year-old Bryant to lift her two-year-old goddaughter Jones to him on the roof, but Bryant was unable to do so and O'Neill jumped down to help before the ladder could reach them. O'Neill had one arm around Bryant and one hand on a rung of the ladder when the fire escape collapsed. O'Neil managed to hang by one hand and was rescued, but Bryant and Jones fell approximately 50 feet (15 meters).
As the firefighter climbed onto the rescue ladder, the fire escape collapsed under their feet and they fell to the ground five floors below. The woman was killed but the child survived, her fall cushioned by the woman’s body. It’s tragic, going from the hope of immediate rescue to a deadly fall in seconds.
Fire Escape Collapse, also known as Fire on Marlborough Street, is a monochrome photograph by Stanley Forman which received the Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography in 1976 and the title of World Press Photo of the Year.
The photograph won the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography as well as World Press Photo of the Year. It was first published in the Boston Herald and then in newspapers around the world and it received a hostile reader reaction.