‘Do you need help?’: California family find man in their chimney

A California family found a man in their chimney. His rescue was caught on video. (KBAK, VINCENT ALVAREZ, CNN)
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 3:29 AM MST
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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK) – It’s not your typical 911 call.

A California couple called for help after they found a man trapped in the chimney of their Bakersfield home.

“What I saw was chaos, drama, and a man stuck in the chimney,” Taylor Alvarez, a witness, said about the situation.

A family was woken up Tuesday night by an unusual sound coming from their chimney.

“As my nephew was bringing the dog in, the dog stated barking as she was inside. We didn’t know why, and then my nephew started hearing pounding from the chimney,” witness Vincent Alvarez said.

They went to go take a closer look. To their surprise, they heard a man’s voice asking for help.

“My father-in-law went over, yelled out, ‘Hello, hello, are you there?’ ‘Yes!’ The voice answered back. ‘Do you need help?’ ‘Yes!’” Taylor Alvarez described.

They immediately called 911.

Deputies, police and firefighters arrived at the scene to rescue the trapped man from inside the family’s chimney.

How he got there is a bit of a mystery, but the family says they have an idea of how this man ended up there in the first place.

“He was, literally, came from the top and went all the way to the bottom here. We do not know how he got on the roof,” Vincent Alvarez said.

Before this ordeal, at around 8 p.m., the family said they heard someone running on their roof.

They called Bakersfield police to report the noise but realized officers were already chasing a man that fled from his car close by.

“They blocked off the area and did the search for 30 minutes and didn’t find him, so they called the search off,” Vincent Alvarez added.

Two hours later at 10 p.m., they head noise coming from their fireplace.

They think the man was looking to hide from law enforcement when he decided to go feet first into the chimney, but this has not yet been confirmed.

Firefighters struggled to get the man out.

“I don’t know how many patrol cars were here, how many fire vehicles. There was probably 50 people here trying to assess the situation,” Taylor Alvarez said.

They knocked off a brick to allow some air in so the man could breathe. They also removed the fireplace entirely.

“For a while he wasn’t speaking, so we were worried that he was gone,” Taylor added.

The man was finally freed during the rescue operation that took around four hours.

The man was covered from head to toe in soot and taken by first responders to a hospital.

The family has a message for the unidentified man: “All we can hope is he turns his life around after this and hopefully doesn’t jump into any more chimneys.”

The man was placed in police custody. It’s unclear what charges he could be facing.