Quebec City's fire department says firefighters were seconds away from reaching three people who ended up jumping from a fourth-floor window to escape their burning apartment.

The department has been facing criticism from the family and neighbours for what they allege was a rescue effort hampered by a slow response time and a ladder truck that malfunctioned.

The family is considering legal action against the fire department.

Fire department spokesman Jean-François Daigle said firefighters were inside the building but the family jumped before they could help.

"What we don't see on the images but what was confirmed is that the firefighters went inside from the front of the building and were ready to go inside to rescue the family," Daigle said.

"It all unfolded in a matter of seconds."

The moment the two adults and a 10-year-old boy jumped from the window was caught in a dramatic amateur video shot by a neighbour.

All three survived the fall, though one adult — the boy's mother — suffered smoke inhalation and a broken wrist and was placed in an induced coma.

Timeline following 911 call

A timeline provided by the fire department shows that the first 911 call was received at 4:55 a.m. and fire trucks were on the scene two minutes later.

According to Radio-Canada, police arrived at 4:59 a.m. and officers reported that the fire department was already there.

Video of the family's escape begins at 5:07 a.m. and the boy is shown being dropped from the burning apartment 30 seconds later.

One neighbour, Alexandre Tellier, said it took about 15 to 20 minutes for help to arrive, even though the closest fire hall is located about a block away from the apartment.

Daigle acknowledged the mechanical issue and said it was being investigated. 

Quebec City fire

The fire caused heavy damage to the family's apartment and other units in the building. (Catou MacKinnon / CBC)