Dearborn Heights Teen Saves Home from Fire

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Dearborn Heights Mayor Dan Paletko and Fire Chief Andrew Gurka congratulate 14-year old Kevin Gaines during an October 22 presentation at the Fire Department Headquarters. Gaines was recognized for his quick response in extinguishing a fire in the kitchen of his family home.

When 14-year old Kevin Gaines prepared an after-school snack on Oct. 5, the last thing he thought he’d have to do was battle a kitchen fire. That’s exactly what happened though, when the Crestwood High School ninth-grader — shortly after preparing some food in the family’s microwave — discovered flames in the kitchen of his family’s Nightingale Street home.

According to Dearborn Heights Fire Inspector Chuck Nowicki, Gaines had prepared some food in the microwave after returning home from school, then retreated to his bedroom to finish his snack. Shortly afterward, he smelled smoke. On investigating, he discovered the microwave in flames. Gaines, who was home alone at the time, grabbed a fire extinguisher and quickly extinguished the flames while a neighbor who had noticed the flames called 911. Because of his quick response, the damage was limited to the microwave and the shelving unit it sat on.

“Kevin did a great job” Nowicki commented. “By the time we got there, he already had the fire extinguished. The microwave and cabinet sustained some damage, but because of his quick action, the fire was extinguished before it had a chance to spread to other parts of the kitchen. There was considerable clean-up to do from smoke damage throughout the residence and extinguishing agent, but it could have been much worse.” The Dearborn Heights Fire Department “B” Unit, under the leadership of Captain Kevin Dunham responded to the incident.

“There are some valuable lessons with this one” Dearborn Heights Fire Marshal Jeff Pierzynski explained. First, when you smell smoke, get up and check it out quickly – don’t assume someone’s burning something outside and everything’s ok in the house. Also, keep a fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen, and know how to use it. In this case, Kevin’s quick action and the family’s forethought of having an extinguisher close by stopped the fire before it had a chance to spread into a much bigger – and potentially catastrophic – event.

Because of his actions, Kevin was recognized by the Dearborn Heights Fire Department on October 22, and received a certification of commendation from Mayor Dan Paletko and Chief Andrew Gurka.