Live

Watch CBSN Live

Veteran firefighter makes unusual save from Arizona fire

Over the past nine years, Adrienne Berman has seen dozens of fires.

But a fire that broke out at the Arizona Pacific Pulp and Paper plant on Tuesday in Phoenix was unlike anything she had ever seen before.

screen-shot-2016-03-25-at-10-37-23-am.png
Massive fire breaks out at Phoenix recycling plant. KMOV

"When we got to that fire it was the most surreal thing I've ever been in," Berman told CBS News. "I have never seen so much fire."

As Berman stood by a firetruck underneath a sky full of soot, she watched Tempe Fire Capt. Nick Ells eyeing an American flag flapping in the brutal winds.

It was like a scene out of a movie, Berman described.

"You could hear explosions from the canisters exploding; there were embers and particles dropping out of the sky," she said. "There was water being sprayed from the ladder trucks creating a rainbow."

Slowly, Ells made his way to the flag.

Walking through heavy smoke, Berman -- ready to take the perfect snapshot -- watched Ells proudly carry the flag away from the fire.

"I have a family full of veterans; this kind of stuff I do not take lightly," Berman said. "We fly the flag every chance we get and the flag is a true symbol of our nation and what it stands for."

A photo of a patriotic Ells proudly carrying the red, white and blue flag went viral. Shared by the United Phoenix Firefighters, the picture was shared by more than 5,300 people.

"Our commitment to saving lives and property is one that won't be compromised under any circumstances," the page posted.

Berman said Ells, as a U.S. Army veteran, understands the importance of that symbol.

When the fire was contained, Ells folded it properly and returned it to its proper owners.

"They were happy, amongst everything that happened that day, to at least have that to hold onto," Berman said. "There are a lot of us out there who still want unity, conformity and just something good to hold onto in a time when there's a lot of bad."

View CBS News In