Shawnee & Lenexa

January 14, 2014

Shawnee council honors boys for quick-thinking action in fire

Like many 8-year-old boys, Damien Duncan says he wants to be a fireman when he grows up.

Like many 8-year-old boys, Damien Duncan says he wants to be a fireman when he grows up.

He felt that way even before last month, when he and his 7-year-old brother, Daryn Duncan, helped save a relative’s neighbors, the Knopf family, after a fire broke out in the Knopfs’ Shawnee home.

The brothers were honored for their courage, level heads and quick actions at the Shawnee City Council meeting Monday. After receiving certificates of commendation from the City Council and a standing ovation from the crowd, more than a dozen active-duty firemen surrounded the brothers, congratulating them on a job well-done.

On the night of Dec. 14, the boys were outside their great-grandmother’s home on West 49th Terrace when they saw flames licking up the outside wall of the Knopfs’ home next door.

The boys ran back inside and told their mother, Brandi Young, who called 911. Then they and other relatives ran to the Knopfs’ home and knocked on the door, alerting them to the fire. Everyone got out safely, and the damage from the fire was minimal.

But without the Duncan brothers’ actions, fire could have been much worse, everyone agrees. The fire was caused by improper installation of the flue of a wood-burning stove in an addition to the home that was still under construction.

“There was no sheetrock or fire stop,” said Shawnee Fire Marshal Corey Sands. “It would have went up quickly if the boys hadn’t seen it.”

Chris Knopf said his older son was still awake inside the house but unaware of the fire, because it had yet to trigger their smoke alarm. He, his wife and younger son were asleep when the flames broke out.

The Knopfs brought gift-wrapped toys for each of the Duncan boys on Monday to thank them for their actions.

“They could have saved our lives,” Knopf said. “They definitely saved our house. … I watched them grow up. It’s cool to have seen them as babies and then see them grow up to be heroes.”

Young said she was very proud of her sons.

“If they saw something, I am sure they would do it again, even without the recognition,” she said.

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