VINELAND, NJ (WTXF) - Intense flames ripped through the roof of the Ramada Inn in Vineland around 1:40 this morning when most of the guests were sound asleep until a repeated pounding changed all of that.
"Someone came banging on the doors saying 'Get out!' cause the alarm didn't go off," one guest explained.
Fire officials say it was Vineland Police Officer Johnathan Rodriguez among a handful of others who came to the rescue.
"I just ran as fast as I could down the hallway and tried to knock on as many as I could," he told FOX 29.
Officer Rodriguez spoke with FOX 29 by phone from his hospital bed where he's being treated for smoke inhalation. He can't even remember how many doors he banged on.
"A woman popped out and yelled that she needed help in the middle of the smoke and she had a disabled child with her so," he said. "Just instinct kicked in and I just went and guided her out through an exit that was close by. A firefighter grabbed her and pulled her out. I turned around, ran back in and finished getting people out of that hallway."
Investigators say the fire started in a second floor unit and spread to the attic where it then engulfed many other rooms.
The guests who got out reported trapped people throwing their belongings down from the second floor before first responders rescued them. Sources say a woman in the room where the fire started was hospitalized for burns.
Officer Rodriguez says there's plenty of credit to go around.
"Firefighters did a great job doing what they did and fellow officers that were there. We did the best that we know how to do. They did a great job as well."