Two Akron firefighters searched through blinding smoke and intense heat to rescue a man who fell unconscious inside a burning home early Friday.
Firefighter Bob Lucey first found the 43-year-old man lying motionless on the kitchen floor of the 10th Street Southwest home, lifted him into his arms and evacuated the house.
Fellow firefighter Greg Gearhart, who had been searching through the basement where the fire started just before midnight, met Lucey inside the house and helped carry the man outside.
The man, whose name was not released, had a pulse but was not breathing. He was stabilized by paramedics and taken to Akron General Medical Center, where he is in critical condition.
Eight other adults inside the house escaped unharmed.
Fire Capt. Bill Howe commended Lucey and Gearhart for their bravery. He said the two were sent inside in the face of intense smoke and heat, especially from the basement where a space heater sparked the flames inside a make-shift bedroom.
The firefighters had flashlights and breathing apparatuses, but basically felt their way around the smoke-filled home for several minutes before locating the man, Howe said.
“When you’re outside waiting to hear if they found him, it seems like an eternity,” Howe said.
Firefighters say it appears the victim had initially made it outside with the eight others after the fire started. Bystanders said he went back inside to retrieve either personal property or a pet dog.
When firefighters arrived at 2215 10th St. Southwest, bystanders were yelling that someone was inside. It was then that Lucey and Gearhart went inside and found the 160-pound man.
“Bob and Greg did a heckuva a job,” Howe said.
The firefighters’ shift ended Friday morning. They were not injured.
The fire caused extensive damage throughout the residence. The Red Cross was aiding the fire victims with housing.