A reported structure fire on Friday morning on Audubon Drive led several area fire companies to battle the blaze, according to District Chief John H. Lightbody.
“On Friday, at 4:21 a.m., the East Dover Vol. Fire Company, Fire District #1, Station 28 was dispatched to 1219 Audubon Drive, for a reported structure fire called in by the homeowner,” said Lightbody.
Upon arrival of police and fire department personnel, all occupants were reported to be out of the structure, according to the authorities.
The homeowners are identified as Ronnie and Alice Dean, who reside at the home with their daughter Jessica and two grandchildren, ages 7 and 12. Two pet dogs from the residence are unaccounted for at this time.
Station 28 Chief Robert Abrams Jr. and Lightbody arrived at the scene at 4:28 a.m. and observed a two-story, wood-framed, single-family dwelling with heavy fire conditions coming from the first and second floor windows in the front and right side of the home, as well as heavy fire emanating from the second floor sliding glass door, that led to a rear deck, said the district chief.
“Engines 2811 of Station 28 was the first engine on location along with ladder 2865. Initial attack lines, consisting of two 1 3/4" hose lines, one 2 1/2" hose line, and deck gun operations were immediately deployed. All fire suppression activities were conducted from the exterior of the home, in a defensive posture, due to the advanced stages of burning and structural integrity of the home,” Lightbody explained.
Lightbody said that Ladder 2865 of Station 28 provided water to fight the fire using a public supply from the fire hydrant, and also gained access to the roof in order to suppress the fire from above the home.
“Subsequently, fire entered the attic of the house, due to vertical fire spread out of the windows and into the roof soffits. The fire penetrated through the roof system, causing the roof and most of the second floor of the home to collapse. The initial collapse of the second floor and roof system occurred at 4:41 a.m.,” said the district chief.
Reinforcements arrived in the form of additional firefighting apparatuses from Island Heights, Silverton, Pleasant Plains, and Ocean Beach (now located at Station 28 due to their fire station being out of service, from Superstorm Sandy). Those arriving fire companies assisted with fire suppression and overhaul operations.
“Toms River Fire Companies Stations 25 & 26 responded to the scene and provided Firefighter Assistance Search Team (FAST) operations, for any downed firefighters, if needed,” Lightbody stated.
Lightbody said that Chief Abrams acted as the Incident Commander on the fire, which was placed under control at 5:24 a.m., and declared out at 6:54 a.m.
“The seat of the fire was extremely difficult to access due to the collapse of the structure, thereby causing the delay in gaining control and subsequent extinguishment the fire,” Lightbody commented.
The origin and cause of the fire is under investigation by the Toms River Township Bureau of Fire Prevention’s Director James P. Mercready, Inspector Dominic Roselli, and Toms River Township Police Detective James Magovern.