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Berlin's Gay Mayor Rescues Neighbors From Fire

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Berlin's Gay Mayor Rescues Neighbors From Fire

365Gay.com

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: January 2, 2007 - 9:00 pm ET

(Berlin) Berlin's openly gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit, is being hailed a hero for sounding the alert and helping evacuate his apartment building when fire broke out on New Year's Eve.

Wowereit and his partner Joern Kubicki where celebrating the New Year when when Kubicki spotted smoke on the roof of the building and called the fire department.

The couple then raced door to door throughout the building warning neighbors of the danger.

"We were sitting there eating our chocolate fondue when [Wowereit ] rang the bell and shouted 'The building is on fire!'" neighbor Gerd Luetjen told Bild newspaper.

"I tried to warn other neighbors but Wowereit had already been everywhere."

Firefighters brought the blaze under control in about a half hour. The fire destroyed a large section of the roof but there were no injuries.

A fire department spokesperson said that owing to the late hour if the mayor and Kubicki had not acted so quickly there could have been serious injuries.

The cause of the fire has been attributed to the careless use of firecrackers which Germans traditionally set off to mark the new year.

As firefighters battled the flames the residents took shelter in a local restaurant where Wowereit bought champagne for them. They were allowed to return home at about 3 a.m.

Wowereit is frequently mentioned as presidential material. He and his Social Democrats won 31.4 percent of the Berlin municipal vote in September ensuring the party will remain in control. His easy victory for re-election came as the party nationally falls into decline.

Almost an unknown when he was selected by the party to fill the mayoralty in 2001 he captured the hearts of Berliners when he came out and declared at a party convention that year "I am gay, and that's a good thing."

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