Gary Parker is the senator of California invited to the Glass Tower's opening ceremony. He inadvertantly becomes one of roughly 300 people who are trapped in the ballroom at the top of the building after faulty wiring, installed by builder James Duncan's son-in-law, Roger Simmons, causes a towering inferno (title drop!).
During the fire department's efforts to get people out of the building and onto the roof of an adjacent skyscraper via breeches buoy, Roger Simmons and several other guys have a collective freakout, and make a mad rush for the buoy all at once, putting too much weight on it and threatening to collapse it and thereby destroying any chance of the remaining survivors escaping.
In a noble but vain attempt at heroics, Senator Parker runs to try and stop them, and grabs hold of the buoy,trying to pull it back in himself. All he succeeds in doing though is killing himself, as all of the weight pulls the buoy right out the window, with Parker clinging on for dear life with just his hands.
Seconds later, he loses his grip and falls over one-hundred stories, ensuring that the people of California will be needing a new senator in the near future.