A Good Samaritan passing the scene of a Kenmore house fire with his girlfriend jumped out of their vehicle Monday afternoon and rescued an 85-year-old woman from inside the smoke-filled house after kicking in the side door, fire officials said.
John C. McKinney, 27, said he and his girlfriend, Tanya Center, were going to buy gas at a station near Prentiss Park about 2 p.m., when he saw flames shooting from the front porch and heavy smoke pouring out.
“It was like that thick, black smoke you used to see from one of those tall school chimneys,” the Akron man said.
McKinney said he knew he had to act quickly, because the woman’s 79-year-old husband was on the top step of the side entrance to the home, unable to get inside.
If not for McKinney’s actions, Akron fire Capt. Bill Howe said, the woman would have died inside the burning home.
Neighbors watching firefighters contain the blaze, off Battles Avenue just across the street from the park, called McKinney a hero.
He would take no credit for what he did, however.
“I hope a person would do the same for me, that’s all. She needed some help, and with the kind of world we live in, I just hope someone would do the same for me,” he said.
Battalion Chief Dennis Stoneman said the elderly couple was taken by medical squads to Summa Akron City Hospital with minor burns and smoke inhalation.
They did not appear to have life-threatening injuries, he said.
A fire investigator was at the scene trying to determine the cause. The fire appeared to have started in the front-porch area and burned through to the inside of the home, Stoneman said.
Three engine trucks, a ladder truck, two medical squads and about 20 firefighters responded to the call, he said.
There were no reports of any injuries to firefighters.
Howe said the fire was under control in about 15 minutes.
But it was intense soon after it started.
“We just happened to pull by coming down the hill,” McKinney said. “We saw the smoke coming out of the house, so I told my girlfriend to stop and turn around, and by the time we got in front, the whole house had caught on fire.”
As the woman’s husband struggled to get inside, McKinney said he ran up to help, couldn’t get in, kicked the door open and went inside.
“When I opened the door, she was in the kitchen trying to get out, couldn’t see, so I grabbed her, put her under my arm and pulled her through the door,” McKinney said.
“All I could hear was her asking for help and saying: ‘I’m in the kitchen, I’m in the kitchen!’ ” he said.
McKinney said he had trouble breathing with the smoke inside the home, so he knew the woman must have had trouble breathing, too.
“It was hot as hell in there,” he said. “If I didn’t get that door open, she would have been dead.”
When they got outside after stumbling a bit, McKinney said, he and the woman’s husband carried her, placed her down on the grass and waited until firefighters and the medical squads arrived.
McKinney said he was having a little trouble breathing minutes afterward but was not injured.
He said the woman thanked him for rescuing her.
“I guess that’s about all she could say considering what she went through,” he said.
Stoneman said the fire investigator was trying to determine if there were working smoke alarms inside. The home appeared to be a complete loss, he said.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or at email@example.com.