Monmouth firefighters battled a fire in a single-family home on Route 135 for five hours at the height of Tuesday’s blizzard, but the home may be a total loss.
Monmouth Fire Chief Dan Roy said no one was injured in the fire, which was reported to emergency dispatchers at 9:30 p.m.
Firefighters relied on public works crews who cleared the road leading to the home, but some got stuck in their driveways on the way to the scene, and a few slipped and fell on the ice that formed on the ground there.
The two-story home, at 554 Route 135, was home to Craig Moody, who was there Tuesday night, and his wife and two children, who were spending the night away at a family camp, Roy said.
The home had heating problems, Roy said, but he didn’t think they caused the fire.
Moody, who was there to clear snow and do work on the house, left safely and was able to move a car that was in the driveway.
Fire crews came to the scene from Monmouth, Winthrop, Wales, Leeds and Greene, Roy said. When they arrived, smoke and flames were starting to come out of the home, but after a couple hours of work, firefighters were able to contain the damage largely to the inside of the building.
“We basically chased that fire all over the house,” Roy said. “Over the years they had done a lot of renovations and additions. They built walls over walls and floors over floors, so there were a lot of void spaces where the fire extended and was concealed. … The damage is extensive. I think it’s going to end up being a total loss.”
The continuous wind fanned the fire and gave it greater strength, and the ongoing precipitation complicated the situation, Roy said.
“The blizzard conditions made it very challenging to get to the incident,” Roy said. “Once there, we had deep snow. We had to extend hoses. Three or four firefighters slipped on the ice. It was almost like freezing rain in between all the snow falling. Everyone was just encrusted with ice.”
Although the damage to the home was great, Roy said, Moody turned down the assistance of the American Red Cross and said he would be staying with a friend. The home was insured, Roy said.
Roy, a private fire investigator, still did not know Wednesday what caused the fire, but he said “it was probably something accidental.” More than 3 feet of water ended up in the basement after firefighters worked their way through the home, and Roy was waiting for the water to recede before returning to inspect the damage.
After leaving the scene, firefighters spent more than an hour cleaning the equipment they used, Roy said.
Charles Eichacker — 621-5642