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Newark Mayor Cory Booker helps save neighbor from fire: 'I felt terror'

Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker gave new meaning to the term "public servant" when he rescued a neighbor from a burning building. NBC's Mara Schiavocampo reports.

Updated at 11:35 a.m. ET Friday: Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker suffered second-degree burns and smoke inhalation as he helped rescue one of his next-door neighbors from a burning building Thursday.


“There was a time when I didn’t think we’d make it out of there,” Booker told media at a news conference Friday morning, describing the rescue as his "proverbial 'come to Jesus' moment."

“I didn’t feel bravery; I felt terror," he said, adding: "There was a moment I felt very religious."

Booker returned home to his home in the Upper Clinton Hill neighborhood of Newark Thursday evening to find the building next door was on fire, the The Star-Ledger newspaper said.

"We got everybody out of the house, but their daughter’s screaming, ‘I’m upstairs!’" he told the paper.

He went in, followed by his security detail, and heard cries for help from upstairs. When he got to the second floor, he was engulfed in flames and smoke.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker holds a press conference to answer questions about Thursday's fire rescue, where he helped save a neighbor from a burning building. Booker said he "did what most neighbors would do."

"I suddenly had the realization that I can't find this woman," Booker told The Star-Ledger newspaper. "I look behind me and see the flames and I think, 'I'm not going to get out of here.' Suddenly I was at peace with the fact that I was going to jump out the window."

Twitter on fire with #CoryBooker stories

Then he heard the woman's voice again from another bedroom.

"I just grabbed her and whipped her out of the bed," Booker said.

They got downstairs, but then collapsed, Booker said.

The paper reported a total of five people went the hospital: the mayor, three members of his security detail, and the woman from the house.

Rescued woman has back, neck burns
The woman was listed in stable condition in the hospital, the Star-Ledger said. She had burns to her back and neck.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker suffered second-degree burns and smoke inhalation after rushing into his neighbor's burning building and carrying her down from the engulfed second floor. WNBC-TV reports.

Fire Chief John Centanni told The Star-Ledger that the mayor may have saved the woman's life.

On Friday, Booker said he used to think he had problems. "Now everything seems so small in my life."

Booker was treated for burns on his hand and for breathing in smoke, the paper added.

"Thanks 2 all who are concerned. Just suffering smoke inhalation. We got the woman out of the house. We are both off to hospital. I will b ok," Booker said in a message on his Twitter account.

"Thanks everyone, my injuries were relatively minor. Thanks to Det. Alex Rodriguez who helped get all of the people out of the house," he added on Twitter.

Another Twitter user, Alethea Felton, said in a message responding to Booker's tweet, "@CoryBooker Wow...I can't wait until you're PRESIDENT oneday-YOU ROCK! God bless you for your devotion & humility to those you serve."

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