- Last Updated: 8:13 AM, April 14, 2012
- Posted: 12:51 AM, April 14, 2012
He’s “Super Mayor.”
Newark leader Cory Booker was hailed as a hero yesterday for saving a neighbor from a blazing house fire — a dramatic rescue that he admitted was absolutely terrifying.
“It was very scary,” Booker said yesterday. “I consider myself very lucky.”
“There was a time I got through the kitchen and was searching for her and looked back and saw the kitchen in flames. It was really a frightening experience for me. I didn’t think we’d get out of there.”
The dramatic rescue began at around 9:30 p.m. Thursday when Booker and two cops from his security detail spotted a fire at his neighbors’ house on Hawthorne Avenue and went to investigate.
On the first floor, they found a couple, who told them that her daughter and another man were trapped upstairs.
Booker and Newark Detective Alex Rodriguez went to the top of the stairs, where the home’s kitchen had erupted in flames.
They first saw a man trying to douse the fire, and told him to get out.
Then they heard Zina Hodge, 47, yelling for help from somewhere beyond the burning kitchen.
“This woman is going to die!” the mayor recalled saying, according to CBS News.
Despite the flames, Booker was determined to get Hodge, whom he has known for six years and considered a “good friend.”
“When I come home from a really tough day, she’s there to tease me,” he said. “She’s just a really good human being.”
Rodriguez, however, tried to stop his boss because the fire was getting worse.
“Something exploded [in the kitchen], and at that point, my security detail did what they’re trained to do, which is get me out of danger,” Booker said.
“So Detective Rodriguez and I had a bit of an altercation when he was following orders — that is, to always protect me. He was literally pulling me by the belt.
“Finally, I whipped around, and we had some words and he relented. I am his commanding officer at the end of the day.”
Booker said he had to crawl on his hands and knees to get to the bed where Hodge was lying.
He put her over his shoulder and carried her back through the kitchen — where flames were shooting up the wall and charred embers were showering down.
Booker said he feared for his life.
“Honestly, at that point, I did not feel bravery — I felt terror,” he said “It looked like I couldn’t get back from where I came from. And I couldn’t breathe. And it was a moment I felt very religious.”
He eventually got back to Rodriguez, and they both took Hodges out of the house.
“She didn’t have much clothes on, so she sustained more burns,” Booker said. “I was holding her and my clothes got burned. But really, only my hand got injured.”
Yesterday, as Hodge was treated for serious burns, her mom, Jacqualin Williams, showered Booker with praise.
“I think he’s a Super Mayor,” she said. “He should stay mayor and then become president.”
Booker said he didn’t feel like a hero, and balked at being called “Super Mayor.”
“I think that’s way over the top. There are people who do this every day,” he said, referring to cops and firefighters.
Hodge’s family felt Booker was a real hero to them.
“That was great,” said her brother, Roderick Lucas, 38. “My uncle tried to go in, and my nephew. Neither one of them could get through, but the mayor did.”