COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - Brian Lucas was rousted from sleep early Thursday morning by flashing red lights reflecting off his window and a lot of commotion in the hallway outside his apartment.
Lucas got out of bed and climbed into the wheelchair he uses to get around so he could check out what the fuss was about, but someone was already looking out for him.
Gull Run Apartments, the Comstock Township apartment complex that Lucas lives in, was ablaze and other residents were fleeing the building.
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But Lucas didn't know that yet.
"I was out of it... sound asleep," he told 24 Hour News 8.
Firefighters knew Lucas from the neighborhood, knew he was in a wheelchair, knew he is hard of hearing, and knew they needed to get him out.
"A fireman raced into my bedroom, yanked me out of bed hauled me out to the ambulance outside my apartment."
Once outside, Lucas, who also has hearing problems and uses hearing aids, saw the reason for concern.
"At the time I didn't believe the severity of the fire. I didn't realize how big it was until I just saw the flames shooting from the top of the building...sparks flying everywhere. Smoke. Then I realized, boy, this is serious," said Lucas.
24 Hour News 8 asked Comstock Township Fire Capt. David Wuis if these folks were happy to see him when he came busting through the door.
"Oh, yeah. Brian was really happy," said Wuis.
That was the second save of the morning for Wuis and his crew, who arrived to find flames engulfing the west end of the building and moving fast across the top.
"The crew we had we got right in, got right at it. So Firefighter Cook and Firefighter Knapp were with me," said Wuis. "Made two forcible entries and two rescues and went right to work."
Other than Lucas, firefighters rescued an 82-year-old woman from the building. She was taken to a hospital.
"She was disoriented," said the victim's son, Dale Corke, as he and his family headed toward the hospital.
Comstock Fire Chief Walter Culver said the woman was able to walk out from the apartment on her own. He did not believe her injuries were serious.
"I could have been cooked. I could have been fried in that apartment," said Lucas, who worries his hearing aids and wheelchair battery charger are lost to the smoke and water damaged in his room.
But looking at the smoking remains of what's left of his and his neighbors' homes, none of that seemed to matter all that much.
"I'm out and I'm OK. Thank God for that. And we're all out. We all got out safely," Lucas said.
About 100 people lived in the burned apartment building; most were able to get out on their own.
Residents can call the American Red Cross at 269.353.6180 for more information.
A shelter was set up at Haven Reformed Church, 5350 N. Sprinkle Road, in which food and beverages were provided throughout the day. The shelter will be available for the affected residents as long as it is needed.
Donation information --
Monetary -- www.redcross.org or 1.800.RED.CROSS (733.27677)
Material donations (clothing, furniture, etc.) can be dropped off at the Kalamazoo Deacon's Conference (1010 N. Westnedge Ave. in Kalamazoo)
State Farm agent Jeremy Weitting is collecting donations of food, clothing and furniture for residents who did not have renter's insurance.
People from Weitting's office will pick up the donations. Citizens can call 269.692.6831 or go to his Facebook page if they would like to make a donation.
GRAM Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in front of a festive downtown crowd at Rosa Parks Circle Friday night.
Two people were taken to the hospital after one vehicle crossed the center line, causing a head-on crash in Ada Township Friday night.
An Ottawa County farmer was injured Saturday when his clothing got caught in his tractor.