Story updated at 11 a.m. on Feb. 23, 2021
NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Two police officers are recovering after responding to a house fire over the weekend and saving the life of a 76-year-old woman.
The fire was devastating. In all, Newark firefighters responded to three different buildings along North 6th Street in the early morning hours on Saturday.
But as CBS2’s Kevin Rincon reported, it wasn’t just their heroics that helped save lives.
On exclusive video obtained by CBS2, flames are seen shooting out of the home, as officers Alicia Lauderdale and Roberto Vera got to the scene. They rushed to get neighbors out, banging on doors.
They found a 76-year-old woman struggling to walk. That’s when Vera carried her down.
Both of the officers were treated for smoke inhalation and they’ve yet to return to work.
Newark Police Deputy Chief Arthur Jorge had nothing but praise for the two of them.
“These officers treated this resident and risked their lives like they were rescuing one of their own, their family members,” Jorge said.
He said the officers have been on the force for all of two years, calling them rookies who went above and beyond.
“We’re not trained in the Newark police to go into fires. We’re actually taught to run away from fires, but these officers are heroic,” Jorge said.
Luckily, no one was killed in the fire, but police said one person was hurt jumping from a window to safety. In all, 17 people were displaced.
Cladea Duran and her two kids are now staying with neighbors across the street. When she realized what was going on she said she grabbed her 7-year-old twins and ran outside.
“In that moment, all you think about is their lives,” Duran said through a translator.
She was on the first floor. Felipe Reyes was right above her.
“I lost everything,” Reyes said.
He said he woke up to the sounds of sirens.
Reyes’ public adjuster said the fire moved so fast, he didn’t have time to do anything.
“It was really bad,” Alex Carde said. “Grabs his pants, came out with no shoes or nothing, came running out.”
Reyes, who has lived in the building for 15 years, is now staying with family at a hotel while working to find a new home.
He said despite the tragedy, he’s happy to be alive.
There was no immediate word on what caused that fire, but it is being investigated by Newark’s Arson Unit.
CBS2’s Kevin Rincon contributed to this report