Firefighters were called twice on Sunday to put out a fire at a Shady Lane home, once at 4:33 p.m. and again at 10:25 p.m.
The second call came some two hours after firefighters had left the premises at 8:44 p.m.
Homeowner Marlene Dantzer and her friend Helen Evers were searching for Betsy, a cat. Dantzer had been unable to evacuate from her home when the fire was originally believed to be contained. Hearing a noise in the second floor bathroom, she thought might be a trapped animal. Evers opened the door and flames shot out, bringing firefighters back to the home.
"I could see leaves burning on trees outside," Evers said. "Looking for Betsy saved the neighborhood."
Evers is vice president of a local nonprofit pet rescue program founded by Dantzer's friend Gina Kantzebedian, owner of Animal Crackers grooming and pet shop.
Dantzer was at the shop when she was first informed that her home was on fire and the two women raced up to Top of the World to rescue Dantzer's animals.
"By the time we arrived at the house, the fire was pretty much out," said Kantzebedian, whom firefighters allowed in the house to bring out the animals.
Incident commander Deputy Chief Jeff LaTendresse said firefighters who responded to the second call to the house at 10:25 p.m. had the fire under control in about 15 minutes.
"We had numerous calls, it was a very visible fire," La Tendresse said.
The original fire started in the garage and spread to the second story, but the cause is still undetermined, LaTendresse said.
"Our first concern on the original call was to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading to neighboring homes and the heavily vegetated area we call the forest," LaTendresse said.
La Tendresse said the crew that responded to the original call left a generator and lights when they left the site.
Later a captain from Station Three went and picked up the equipment and did not notice any problems.
About 25% of the home was damaged, mostly to the garage and the second floor, according to LaTendresse.
"For the most part, the first floor was undamaged," he said.
The estimated loss is $400,000. Contents have not yet been evaluated.
Dantzer had several collectibles, such as figurines, that La Tendresses said he hoped could be salvaged.
Kantzebedian, who had helped rescue most of the animals in Dantzer's home when the fire was first reported, did not make the second trip to look for Daisy and Betsy. She was busy treating the pets for burns on their paws and noses because the veterinarian's office was closed.
Kantzebedian is also contacting local realty agents to find a place for Dantzer, her dog and her cats to stay while the house is restored.
One of Dantzer's neighbors offered them shelter while they seek a temporary rental, difficult because of the pets.
Dantzer is a holistic consultant for ailing animals, known by some of her clients to be resolute in finding cures when even vets have given up.
"She's like me, she would never take a place where she couldn't have her animals," Kantzebedian said.
Anyone with information about possible accommodations is asked to call Kantzebedian at (949) 499-1988.