‘Definitely a blessing’: 2 college students home on break due to coronavirus alert family to fire

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — Governor Mike DeWine’s “stay at home” order may have been a life-saver for a Cleveland family, in more ways than one. 

A fire broke out in their home and two college students, who were taking online classes due to the coronavirus pandemic, jumped into action.

Around 4:20 p.m. Saturday, Michael Kuznik was helping his friend Allen Morinec Jr., clean out the family garage on Sheryl Drive in Cleveland’s Old Brooklyn neighborhood.

At first, they were unaware of the flames inside the attached garage at their neighbor’s house across the street.

“I remember running up to the door and banging, pounding on it and I probably rang the doorbell like 30 times, alarmed their family,” said Morinec.

“It really was such a coincidence that we were there and it was definitely a blessing that we were there I would say,” said Kuznik.

Kuznik is a sophomore at Ohio State University and Morinec is a junior at Georgia Institute of Technology.

“We’re both home because of colleges have been closing, so we’re taking online classes If there wasn’t this whole coronavirus, I would be in Atlanta and he would be in Columbus,” said Morinec.

While Kuznik was on the phone with 911, Morinec alerted the family and instructed his friend on where to find fire extinguishers inside his house.

“The fire went out in a big cloud of white smoke, it re-lit again because it was an oil fire. It’s crazy enough that a couple days before we were just going over where the fire extinguishers are in the house, some things are just meant to be, I guess,” Morinec said.

Cleveland fire investigators say the young men had the fire contained by the time firefighters arrived. Allen and Michael say their neighbors were having a small family gathering. Investigators say the fire was caused by an unattended deep fryer.

“The fire grew from nothing to licking the top of the garage, the metal garage in maybe 60 or 90 seconds,” Morinec.

 A fire department spokesman says Cleveland’s fire chief is expected to recognize the two young men at an awards ceremony in October.

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