Newark Mayor’s Heroic Act

Newark After Cory Booker: City Faces Takeover Threat
Mayor Cory Booker.

AFRICANGLOBE – Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, dashed into a burning building Thursday night to help rescue a trapped woman, an act of heroism that sent him to the hospital.

“Thanks 2 all who are concerned. Just suffering smoke inhalation,” Booker said on Twitter. “We got the woman out of the house. We are both off to hospital. I will b ok.”

Video from the scene showed Booker hugging the woman, his right hand wrapped in gauze.

“Just some second-degree burns,” said the mayor, who went to the hospital briefly before returning home.

The rescue marked Booker’s latest foray into the media spotlight.

The mayor has enjoyed a steady rise in national prominence as an outspoken advocate for urban issues since taking office in 2006. His efforts to turn around a city long-struggling with high crime, chronic poverty, and a restrictive budget are chronicled on the Sundance Channel’s series “Brick City.”

Booker has fostered a reputation as a hands-on mayor of sorts. He was spotted shoveling city streets during a 2010 blizzard and used his Twitter feed to coordinate snow plows and the delivery of supplies. His reputation also contrasts with several previous Newark mayors, who have been convicted of corruption-related charges.

The fire happened in a building next to Booker’s home, the mayor told reporters on Friday.

He had returned home and was alerted to flames shooting out of a second-floor window by his security detail. Flanked by the two detectives, Booker rushed toward the building, he said.

“Something exploded and sent a lot of flames over the steps, and my detail just grabbed me and started trying to drag me out of there,” he said.

There was a “bit of an altercation,” but he convinced the security personnel to let him go.

Detective Alex Rodriguez “was literally pulling me by the belt,” said Booker. “Finally, I whipped around and we had some words, and he relented.”

Booker then said he ran through the kitchen and into a smoke-filled room, where he had trouble finding the woman.

“I looked back behind me and saw the kitchen was becoming more of an inferno, and at that point I thought to myself, ‘This is it.’ ”

But the woman called out and he was able to grab her from a back bedroom, run back through the burning kitchen, and to safety.

“There was a time when I got through the kitchen and was searching for her and looked backed and saw the kitchen in flames,” Booker told reporters Friday. “I didn’t think we were going to get out of there.”

Det. Rodriguez said Booker “ran in — without thinking for his own safety — ran upstairs and assisted in rescuing the young lady.”

“He burned his hand trying to pull the lady out.”

Booker said that just as he “was falling down, trying to find somewhere to breathe, I finally heard her voice and found an opening where I could grab her.”

The detectives who were with him then helped get them out of the house.

The woman, whom Booker described as a friend and neighbor, was hospitalized and is in stable condition, suffering from second degree burns.

Newark Fire Director Fateen Ziyad said three other residents were removed from the home and are “are doing well.”

“I’m a neighbor who did what most neighbors would do, which is to jump into action to help a friend,” Booker said.