July 03, 2014GROSSE POINTE FARMS — A suburban Smokey the Bear is credited with preventing a garage fire.
"It is (my) strong opinion that the garage was within a minute of becoming fully engulfed if it had not been for the quick actions of (Duane) Vogel," said Lt. Andrew Rogers of Grosse Pointe Farms public safety.
"I did what I hope somebody would do for me," Vogel said.
Vogel, 47, of Grosse Pointe Woods, saved the garage shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday, June 28.
While driving his truck on Grosse Pointe Boulevard, he noticed black smoke coming from the direction of a house at the corner of Merriweather.
"My first thought was someone had a backyard barbecue, but it was making way too much smoke," Vogel said.
He soon realized the smoke came from the closed and separate bay of an otherwise open three-car, attached garage.
"It was coming from under the eaves," Vogel said. "I stopped because maybe somebody needed help."
He banged on the door of the house and yelled. No answer.
"Smoke was getting worse and emitting from the eaves of the garage," Rogers said.
Vogel felt the garage door — warm, not hot — before opening it.
Six-foot flames rose from a push-type lawn mower, charring wooden joists.
"The lawn mower was engulfed," Vogel said. "I looked around for a fire extinguisher. I didn't see one."
"To make matters worse, there were four or five gasoline containers on the ground near the mower," Rogers said.
Vogel pushed the burning mower outside to the driveway apron.
He knocked on the house's front door.
"Finally, a gentleman answered the door," Vogel said. "By that time the cops arrived. Somebody must have called them."
Officers put out the flames with a chemical extinguisher and water bucket before clearing the scene at 5:23 p.m.
The homeowner thanked Vogel.
"I shook his hand when I left," Vogel said.