CANTON, Ohio — Greg Kennedy heard a loud noise while he was watching a March Madness basketball game Saturday afternoon in the living room of his Scoville Avenue SW home in Canton. He assumed it was traffic noise from nearby Route 30.
In reality, his house was burning down, but he didn't realize that until his next-door neighbor, Robert Philbrick, banged on the front door and yelled for Kennedy and his wife Janet, who was in an upstairs bedroom.
Without the alert from the neighbor, the homeowner— who said he's in his 60s— isn't sure if he or his wife would have survived.
"He did a great job. He did a great job. I mean, he almost went right through my door to make sure we got out of there," Greg Kennedy said.
Philbrick's wife, Katie, said her husband, who is a mechanic, was working on his grandmother's minivan when he saw smoke coming from the house next door.
Katie called 911 and Robert jumped into action.
"He was banging on the door to let them know their house was on fire and he basically got them out," Katie Philbrick said. "There were a couple of fireballs that shot past his face, and then obviously, the electricity was sparking at the same time because that was the side of the house that the electricity and cables were attached to."
Katie said several of her husband's relatives, including his father and grandfather, were firefighters.
"It just was instinct for him. He just said it kind of took over him and he just went in and did it, so he wasn't thinking twice about it," she said.
Kennedy, who is an Army veteran, said he and his wife lost nearly all of their possessions in the fire, including clothing, furniture and irreplaceable family items.
"Things from our grandparents," he said.
The family did not have insurance. Kennedy said he couldn't afford it.
"If you ain't got the money, you ain't got the money," he told News 5.
A GoFundMe page was set up by the couple's daughter, Jennifer Kennedy.
Canton firefighters said they are working to determine a cause.
The couple, who has lived in the home for nearly 35 years, is devastated by the damage caused by the fire, but also grateful for their second chance thanks to some caring neighbors.
"You're lucky you got your life and then you got to wonder what you're going to do with it at my age," Greg Kennedy said.