Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 16, 2011

Benzie fire victims identified

BY BRIAN McGILLIVARY and JAMES RUSSELL
Record-Eagle staff writers

— FRANKFORT — Firefighters recovered the bodies three people killed in residential fire on Pautz Road north of Frankfort in Crystal Lake Township.

Authorities identified the dead as Chris E. Luedtke, his wife Linda Luedtke, and their son Christopher Luedtke, 17. The fire’s cause has not been determined;  state fire marshal has been called in to assist the investigation.

Firefighters from the city of Frankfort were dispatched at 7:38 a.m. and found the building fully involved upon arrival.

Tim Sullivan, who lives next door to the Luedtkes said firefighters knocked down most of the blaze by 9 a.m. but little remained but the foundation.

Chris Luedtke owns C E Luedtke Construction, an excavation company, and Linda Luedtke is company secretary.

“They are very nice folk; Chris is big on helping out the neighbors,” Sullivan said.

During the winter Chris often plowed neighbors’ long driveways with his pickup and plow, Sullivan said. He used a front-end loader after heavy snows.

“He doesn’t charge, he just shows up,” Sullivan said. “He was a hard worker and always willing to help out.”

The Record-Eagle will provide more updates on its website today and in tomorrow’s paper. Earlier updates are below.

12:25 p.m.

FRANKFORT — Authorities have confirmed three bodies were found inside the home, believed to be the Luedtkes and their teenage son.

The Record-Eagle will provide more updates on its website today and in tomorrow’s paper. Earlier updates are below.

12:05 p.m.

FRANKFORT — Tim Sullivan said he’s keeping his fingers crossed after a fire destroyed his neighbor’s home on Pautz Road north of Frankfort in Crystal Lake Township.

A house that belonged to Chris E. and Linda Luedtke burned to the foundation this morning. A neighbor reported hearing an explosion about 7:30 a.m. Firefighters responded from Frankfort and knocked down most of the blaze by 9 a.m. but smoke continued to rise from the structure at 11:30 a.m.

Chris Luedtke owns C E Luedtke Construction and Linda Luedtke is company secretary.

Authorities have not confirmed if anyone was home, but suspect three occupants died. Sullivan said all the family’s vehicles are at the scene. The Luedtke have a teenage son.

“They are very nice folk; Chris is big on helping out the neighbors,” Sullivan said. “We are all keeping our fingers crossed.”

The Record-Eagle will provide more updates on its website today and in tomorrow’s paper. Earlier updates are below.

10:55 a.m.

BEULAH — Three family members likely perished in a residential fire this morning in Crystal Lake Township.

Benzie County Sheriff Rory Heckman said authorities received a report of a fire in a single-family house on Pautz Road just after 7:30 this morning.

Heckman did not identify the victims, but said a man, woman and child died in the blaze.

Authorities have yet to determine the cause.