He's not a firefighter — he just plays one on TV — but Chicago Fire actor Jesse Spencer was a real-life hero on March 30 in Springfield, IL.

The 35-year-old Aussie — also known for his long tenure on House — was touring the Illinois State Capitol with his parents at the time, and the Spencer family eked their way into a crowded elevator car in the 145-year-old building.

The car started to move — and then it stopped between floors. "People started to freak out," Jesse recounted to the Chicago Sun-Times. "It was packed. There were, like, 30 people in there. It was getting so hot. It’s claustrophobic. One poor girl had a fear of being trapped in elevators."

Without any cell reception, they used the elevator's phone, but the person on the other line insisted on calling the mechanic instead of the fire department.

Making matters worse for Jesse, some of the trapped passengers recognized him for the show. Others thought his Chicago Fire cap meant that he was a real fireman.

"That’s why I had to do something," Jesse told the newspaper, laughing.

He put his TV-star muscles to good use, prying the doors open with his hands.

"Once we got the doors opened, it relieved the tension. I took turns getting people that were freaking out over near the door."

The slight opening also gave one woman faint cell phone reception, which she used to call 911. The real-life firefighters showed up and freed the passengers.

By that point, Jesse and his family were out of time to do their sightseeing. "I’ll have to go back and do the tour," he rued. "I’ll probably take the stairs."

Source: Chicago Sun-Times

Dan Clarendon is an assistant editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow him on Twitter and Google+!