HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — An early 20th-century farmhouse was destroyed Friday morning after a fast-moving fire ripped through the two-story structure on the 6100 block of Harley Avenue.
By the time the fire was out, about an hour after authorities responded to the blaze, all that remained of the wooden house built in 1906 was two charred brick chimneys.
Mizpah Fire Chief Anthony Cortes said firefighters had to contend with exploding ammunition and concerns about a propane tank on the property, which also houses the South River Fish Hatchery.
No injuries were reported, but rescuers removed one horse from the property and were trying to find other animals, including two dogs, Cortes said.
The homeowner had just left the property to attend the Atlantic City Airshow, said John Giacobbe, a neighbor who called 911 to report the fire. When Giacobbe saw the fire, which was just down the street from his house, the blaze had already nearly consumed the wooden structure. “It took only 15 minutes to destroy it,” he said.
The house, which sits on about 30 acres, according to tax records, is owned by Michael and Susan Lynn Manning. Michael Manning is an artist who’s professional name is Ruane Manning.
Giacobbe said much of Manning’s artwork was inside the house and that the fire may have destroyed the studio. Another building behind the house that burned stood seemingly untouched.
Manning also runs the South River Fish Hatchery on the property, which supplies catfish, yellow perch, trout, koi, minnows and bullfrogs.
The heat from the blaze caused numerous rounds of ammunition to explode, leading firefighters to take extra precaution, Cortes said, adding that it’s not unusual for firefighters to come across popping ammunition at fires in rural areas.
“It’s not illegal,” he said.
Multiple fire companies, including volunteer companies from Weymouth, Laureldale, Richland and Dorothy, responded. The fire is under investigation by the Hamilton Township Fire Marshal’s Office.
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