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Mayor becomes hero.

Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker is being honored for his daring rescue of Zina Hodge in the midst of an intense house fire. Two members of his security detail are also being honored.

On April 12, the two security officers--Alex Rodriguez and Santos Duran--were waiting for the Mayor to arrive at his home when they noticed flames coming out of a second-story window of a neighbor's house. The men called fire dispatch and banged on the neighbor's door to alert the home's occupants of the blaze. They managed to rescue three people from the home just before Booker arrived.

Booker recalled that as the second security officer came out of the home with a rescue victim, the victim screamed that her daughter, Zina Hodge, was still trapped in the building. It was at that point that the blaze worsened, reports News One. Booker, who was determined to rescue the trapped daughter, explained, "Something exploded and sent a lot of flames over the steps, and [Rodriguez] just grabbed me and started trying to drag me out of there." Booker would not be deterred, and after a heated exchange, Rodriguez relented and let Booker continue into the home.

It was at that point, Booker explained, that he experienced a "proverbial come-to-Jesus moment," as he felt the intensity of the heat and could not find Hodge. "The reality is I didn't feel any courage. I felt fear," he said. "I've never been so almost convinced that this was it. It was time to hope that I was going up and not down."

But just as the Mayor was praying and considering his next move, Hodge called for help. He was able to follow her voice and find where she was. He quickly carried her out of the burning home before collapsing onto the sidewalk outside.

"Her mother gave me a hug I'll never forget for getting her out," he said. "At that point, I felt this sense of gratitude. To go [in] moments from thinking you're dead to kissing the Newark pavement. ... I felt like I was delivered from the fires of hell."

While Hodge suffered serious injuries, the other three victims were doing well following the rescue. None of them might have survived if it were not for the daring rescue efforts of the Mayor and his two security officers. Mayor Booker suffered from smoke inhalation and second-degree burns but appeared in high spirits during his recovery.

He said the entire incident "unfolded in a way that I think that angels helped to make it so."

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Title Annotation:THE GOODNESS OF AMERICA; Cory Booker
Author:Clabough, Raven
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1U2NJ
Date:May 21, 2012
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