SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE (CBSMiami) – New body camera video obtained exclusively by CBS4 shows the dramatic moments before and during the rescue of a family by a veteran Miami-Dade Police Officer as a raging fire in a nearby ficus tree threatens to engulf their home in the middle of the night.
The homeowner told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that the officer, Joseph Azrak, was a “godsend.”
Azrak humbly said it was “all part of the job.”
It was 2:45 a.m. on April 13th when Azrak was on patrol as part of the DUI squad on the midnight shift when he noticed smoke by the home just north of Sunset Drive near South Miami at SW 71st Street and SW 71st Court.
Then he saw flames shooting from a ficus tree that was right next to the home.
Azrak said he knew he had to act quickly.
Body Cam video shows Azrak banging repeatedly on the front door.
You hear him saying, “Mam, police. You need to come out of your house. There is a fire in front of your house. Mam, get everything out. The fire is too close to your house.”
“The tree was a large ficus tree and the flames were high up in the air,” said Azrak. “I was worried that they would spread quickly and spread to the other houses as well.”
Azrak demonstrated what he did.
“I was knocking more and more on this door and then I was looking in the window,” he said.
“What was going on in your mind?” asked D’Oench.
“To get everyone who is in the house out before the fire spreads,” he said.
Inside the home were Dulce Pumarol, her 24-year-old son and her 5-year-old little Dutch hound named Prince.
Azrak woke her up.
At first she thought police were there to tell her something terrible about her other son who works in security.
“I thought they had come to tell me he had been killed or something awful like that so I was scared,” said Pumarol.
“He kept knocking on the doors and the windows,” she said. “So when I got close to the front door I heard him say it’s the police. Nothing is going to happen to you so open your door.”
When she opened her door she saw the fire and realized she could have been trapped because of her limited exit points.
“He was a godsend,” said Pumarol. “I said God sent him. Thanks to God because if he hadn’t come here my son and my dog and I would have died that night.”
It’s not known how the blaze started. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue put it out. Pumarol, her son and her dog were rescued safely.
“I’m really grateful for what he did,” said Pumarol. “Words cannot express your gratitude for my life, my kid’s life. There are no words.”
“I’m so glad it didn’t get any worse than it did,” Officer Azrak said. “I am thankful for people in the area that it didn’t get any worse than it did. It’s all part of the job and helping people is a great thing with this job. I tell people all the time that in these negative situations, you have to remain positive.”
Public service is part of a family tradition for him.
Azrak said his mother had worked as a nurse and said his brother is an FHP trooper in the Tallahassee area.
He said he had always wanted to be in law enforcement.
He became a police explorer at the age of 14 and has been with Miami-Dade Police for 15 years.
He said police work is his passion.