In a scene straight out of Hollywood, Newark Mayor Cory Booker upped his status from local politician to modern day hero last night.
The mayor was on his way home in his usual evening routine. That's when he noticed flames coming from his next-door neighbor's home. First, Booker's security team tried to pound on the door, alerting the residents of the impending danger.
Newark Police Detective Alex Rodriguez arrived on the scene and initially had to hold Booker back from rushing into the flames after an elderly woman frantically told them that her daughter was trapped inside the building.
"He basically told me, 'This woman is going to die if we don't help her,' and what can I say to that?," Rodriguez said of Booker to CBS. "I let him go and without thinking twice, he just ran into the flames and rescued this young lady."
As Booker bravely dashed out of sight and into the flames, he said the surreal experience resembled a "come to Jesus moment." Staring an early death in the face, Booker let his instincts take over.
"I actually wasn't thinking. When I got there and couldn't find her in all the smoke, looked behind me and saw the kitchen really erupting with flames all over the ceiling, that's when I had very clear thoughts that I'm not going to get out of this place alive and got ... very religious," he said.
It was then that Booker heard a voice somewhere behind the flames and thick smoke. It was the voice of the young woman who had become trapped in a room and she was calling to Booker, "Help!"
Wasting no time, Booker held down his head and rushed to her side, dodging flames and racing against time.
"I just sort of threw her over my shoulder and dragged her through the kitchen," Booker said.
But just when Booker thought he had triumphed over fate, he realized that their exit strategy could mean a certain death. The only was out was the kitchen, engulfed in flames and sweltering heat.
"I couldn't see anything but the flames coming out of the kitchen and I really had this moment where I thought, 'Okay. I think I'm trapped. I think we can't get out,'" he recalled.
That's when Booker knew it was now or never. He had to act fast. With one final burst of adrenaline, Booker punched his way through and created a narrow exit path, leading them to safety. Both Booker and the woman suffered second degree burns, but without Booker's quick thinking, it could have ended much worse for both of them.
"Yesterday, all my problems were really big to me. Today things feel a lot more clear," Booker told CBS. "And I have a lot more respect for firefighters!"
Now, that is a mayor who can really save the day! Too bad it's not an election year for Booker!