Why the man chose to evacuate the building in this manner is unclear.
Firefighters responded to the apartment building, known as Holden Tower, around 9:30 p.m. Thursday, WPVI-TV reported. The fire is believed to have started in a trash chute. The building was evacuated.
Four residents and three police officers were hospitalized for smoke inhalation, KYW-TV reported.
The fire was contained by 11 p.m. Residents were allowed back in the building early Friday.