When Kent firefighters arrived on the scene at South Lincoln Street around 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 10, the flames inside a vacant rental house had already grown into a fully involved fire.
Despite poor visibility due to smoke, Kent Fire Lt. William Myers and firefighter Bryan Pengal pressed into the home to find the source of the fire. It was the smoke that prevented Pengal from seeing a section of the floor was missing, causing him to fall seven feet, head first into the basement.
Kent Fire Chief Dave Manthey said Myers then called for help for Pengal, who appeared dazed, and followed his fellow firefighter into the flame-filled basement.
"Acting Capt. Myers, without hesitation, jumped into the hole down into the basement, where he was caught up in debris before he could make his way to firefighter Pengal," Manthey said. "Acting Capt. Myers got to Bryan and assisted him to a stairway they had found and to awaiting firefighters calling out to them."
Pengal was transported to Akron City Hospital, and Myers returned to fighting the blaze, which the Kent Fire Department had under control by 7 a.m.
Manthey, who presented Myers with a Kent Fire Department Medal of Valor Wednesday night, said Myers' quick action at the scene of the fire helped avert a possible tragedy.
Mayor Jerry Fiala also proclaimed Dec. 19 as William Myers Day in the city of Kent.
Myers said he was simply doing his job, adding that he felt any of his fellow firefighters would have responded in the same way.
"What I see myself doing there is something any one of these guys ... would have done," Myers said.
The fire, which investigators said was "suspicious," is still under investigation by Kent State University police officials.
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