Traverse City Record-Eagle

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January 14, 2014

Man, pets narrowly escape fire

TRAVERSE CITY — A Peninsula Township homeowner and his four pets are safe after a narrow escape from a fire that ripped through a bayfront house.

Luke Lansbach, 63, awoke in his upstairs bedroom early Monday to the sound of a smoke alarm. Peninsula Township Fire Chief Richard VanderMey said Lansbach tried to call 911 from his residence at 17278 Smokey Hollow Road, but he couldn’t reach a phone.

“He couldn’t find his cell phone on a charger downstairs because the smoke was so thick,” VanderMey said.

Lansbach walked to a neighbor’s house for help making a 911 call at 1:45 a.m. VanderMey said the fire had already destroyed much of the house when firefighters arrived.

“I was one of the first ones on the scene and flames were already out the roof,” VanderMey said.

A steep driveway created an obstacle for firefighters wanting to get their trucks closer to the house. VanderMey said firefighters ended up hauling heavy lengths of hose down the hill from tanker trucks from several different departments.

Traverse City Fire Chief Jim Tuller said city firefighters, Grand Traverse Metro, Elmwood and Cedar fire departments all provided assistance.

“We were glad to hear on our way out there that everybody was out of the house,” Tuller said.

VanderMey said Lansbach, two cats and two dogs all escaped unharmed from the house, which is considered a total loss. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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