Vintage Victorian Home Destroyed by Fire in Little Silver
Candles lit for a holiday party in the Carriage House Lane house caught curtains and touched off the blaze. The family escaped unharmed.
A Victorian-era home on Carriage House Lane in Little Silver was destroyed Saturday, with several area fire departments called in to knock down the flames. All of the occupants were evacuated before the major damage took place.
Officials said the fire began in the circa 1892 Queen Anne style home at 28 Carriage House Lane when preparations for an annual Christmas party at the Loftus residence went terribly wrong.
The Red Cross and neighbors have offered assistance to the Loftus family. The Loftus' will be staying with family during their displacement. The American Red Cross, Jersey Coast Chapter can be reached at 732-493-9100.
Five candles lit in the kitchen between the sink and curtains caught the curtains on fire, and flames quickly spread through the home. Donna Loftus, her 11-year-old son, and two housekeepers were home when the fire began. The initial 911 call from Donna Loftus' son was received around 1 p.m. Saturday.
Firefighters from Oceanport, Neptune, Long Branch, West Long Branch, Shrewsbury, Little Silver, Tinton Falls, Fair Haven, and Wayside all responded. EMS crews from Shrewsbury, Little Silver and Fair Haven also responded. Red Bank covered for Little Silver at the firehouse on Prospect Avenue during the blaze.
Around 3 p.m., flames were seen through the roof and the deck was charred. Crews from Shrewsbury, Long Branch and West Long Branch were busy hosing down the blaze with firefighters up in ladders and unmanned "squirts." The roof collapsed around 3:30 p.m.
Police Chief Dan Shaffery said getting water to the fire proved difficult, despite the home's location near the Shrewsbury River.
"We wanted to draft out of the river, but we couldn't. We can't get down there and back out. As you can see, there are hoses everywhere, all over the place," said Shaffery.
As of 6:30 p.m., firefighters were still fighting pockets of fire in the house. Shaffery said crews set up scene lights to fight the blaze into the evening, and that the house would be condemned.
Shaffery believed the age of the building's wood, lack of insulation, and balloon framing construction style (which is now against fire code) may have been contributing factors to the fire's spread.
Police and fire officials said the fire was the largest the town has seen since a fire completely destroyed a home on Bernard Terrace four or five years ago.
Heavy smoke blew across the Shrewsbury River as far as Asbury Avenue in Oceanport during the day. Silverside Avenue was closed at the intersections of Seven Bridges Road and Oceanport Avenue through the evening as firefighters continued to fight the blaze.
The fire was under control by 5 p.m. Saturday but rekindled twice as firefighters returned at 11 p.m. Saturday evening and again around 10 a.m. Sunday morning.