Residents Escape Harm in Ohio Apartment Fire

An alert newspaper carrier helped several residents escape from an early morning apartment fire on Silver Oaks Drive before anyone was injured.

David Kegley, 43, a Kent resident and an Akron Beacon Journal carrier for six years, said he was doing his route about 4:45 a.m. Monday when he saw smoke coming from an apartment complex at 512 Silver Oaks Drive.

Kegley said he immediately ran to the door of Apartment 510, banged on the door and yelled fire, but there was no answer.

Then, he said, he got into his car, drove to Apartment 517, jumped over the rear patio fence, banged on the door there and yelled fire again.

A resident inside that apartment came to the door, Kegley said, and told him firefighters were on the way.

''I was so scared when I went home,'' Kegley said, ''I was almost in tears because I was thinking: 'Did anybody else hear me?' ''

After dropping off his wife at school, he said, he returned to the Silver Oaks complex later Monday and was told by a resident in Apartment 395 that many residents had heard him banging on the doors and managed to get out of the buildings without any injuries.

Kent Fire Chief Jim Williams released a statement saying the cause of the fire was under investigation by his department, Kent police and the state fire marshal's office.

Damage was estimated at $250,000 to the buildings and $65,000 to the buildings' contents, Williams said.

Seven apartment residents escaped the buildings, the statement said. There were no reports of injuries.

An apartment on the first floor, where the fire apparently originated, was damaged extensively, according to the statement. Other apartments on the first floor were damaged by water used to fight the fire, and all apartments on the second floor were damaged by smoke and heat, the statement said.

Williams said several area departments responded to the call and helped fight the blaze. Workers from Ohio Edison and SBC also helped repair power lines and telephone lines to the buildings, the statement said.

The chief was not available for comment Tuesday, fire officials said.

Kegley said he did not want any accolades from fire officials, or anyone else, because ''I just did my job. That's part of my job as a carrier. When I see something suspicious happening, I try to help people.''

He said he also works a night job at a local restaurant.

He and his wife, Melissa, also a Beacon Journal carrier, have a 2 ½-month-old son.

Distributed by the Associated Press