Junior firefighter’s timing saves family of 5

WEST LIBERTY – What Ryan Seidewitz lacks in firefighting experience, he made up for in courage – and timing – as he helped a family of five to safety just before flames engulfed their West Liberty home Wednesday evening.

Seidewitz, an 18-year-old junior firefighter with the Bethany Volunteer Fire Department, said he was driving in his personal vehicle when he noticed smoke and flames near a home in the 1100 block of North Fork Road, just off state Route 88, at about 6:30 p.m. A closer look revealed a shed on fire just a few feet from the house, so he knocked on the door.

“There was no response, so I kicked the door down,” Seidewitz said.

He discovered the family – a couple and their three children, ages 21, 13 and 10 – toward the back of the house, unaware the shed was on fire. He quickly got them and their pets outside just before flames from the burning shed consumed the home.

Nobody was hurt, though the home appeared to be a total loss. Seidewitz, who will enter college in the fall, said he’s glad he was in the right place at the right time.

“It was just lucky,” he said.

As firefighters from the Bethany, West Liberty and Clearview fire departments battled the blaze, a man was seen carrying several pizzas to the scene from Domino’s, located just a few buildings away. Brooke County Emergency Management officials also contacted the Red Cross and Salvation Army to provide assistance to the family.