MIDDLE TOWNSHIP — A five-alarm fire gutted a George Street home in the Whitesboro section on Thursday afternoon, but everybody got out safely.
Owner Tammy Hall was distraught as she watched firefighters battle the blaze but was happy she got out along with her son, nephew and several family dogs.
“Thank God,” Hall said.
The fire did cause one injury. A Rio Grande firefighter suffered a leg injury when his foot went through the floor, said Rio Grande Assistant Fire Chief Jim Belles. He was treated and released at Cape Regional Medical Center in Cape May Court House.
It’s unclear what started the fire, which was called in at 1:26 p.m., but Hall said she heard a noise before she realized the house was burning.
“I jumped up and just that quick it was on fire,” Hall said.
Belles said the fire has been ruled accidental and remains under investigation. He noted the house did not have smoke detectors.
“She was in a bathroom and heard a pop. She got up and saw flames. If she didn’t hear that popping noise, she wouldn’t have checked it out,” Belles said.
Volunteer firefighters from Rio Grande, Green Creek, Cape May Court House, Erma and Goshen responded along with EMTs and police officers. They arrived to heavy smoke pouring out of the front of the house and fire coming out of the roof in the rear. The older home has balloon-frame construction that allowed the fire to move quickly.
Belles said they initially mounted an interior attack using air packs to make sure nobody was still inside. Once that was done, firefighters pulled out of the house and mounted an exterior attack.
“The smoke was turning black, and the second floor was coming down on the first floor, so I evacuated and we fought it from the outside. Our initial search confirmed everybody was out of there,” Belles said.
The Cape May County Chapter of the American Red Cross is assisting the family, including finding them lodging in a motel. Belles said the inside of the house is a total loss. The family lost all their belongings from fire, smoke and water damage.
Firefighters were cleared from the scene at 4:26 p.m.
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