HAZLET – A devastating fire destroyed a two-story home at 11 Dundall Place in Raritan Valley today, but neither residents nor first responders were hurt at the scene.
Police were alerted at 12:49 p.m. by a caller reporting a smoke condition at the address, according to Hazlet Police Sgt. Nick Greene.
By the time officers arrived on the scene of the Vitale residence, the 2,100 square-foot house was engulfed in flames, he said. There was no one in the house, he added.
“I’m told it was a three alarm fire. It was pretty significant,” Greene said, speaking from the police station Wednesday evening.
All three of Hazlet’s fire companies – North Centerville, Hazlet Fire Company #1 and West Keansburg – were on the scene, with North Centerville in command, Greene said.
Also helping Hazlet were fire companies representing Matawan, Union Beach, Keyport, Atlantic Highlands, Leonardo, Middletown, East Keansburg, Marlboro and Sea Bright.
Hazlet EMS was joined by first aid squads from Union Beach, Keansburg and Monmouth County.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
Bob Bryant, who lives two doors down from the home, was home at the time with his grandchildren and preparing his car to go out when it all started. He described the fire as “intense” but contained to the lower level until it expanded rapidly to the upper level.
“You had people walking on the other side of the street who walked by and didn’t see it – then looked back and the fire was downstairs on the lower level,” he said. “It was flames coming out the window. Smoke, and then flames.”
The vinyl siding of a neighboring home was warped from exposure to the fire’s heat, but thankfully there was not wind, said Bryant. He said the neighborhood is keeping an eye out for Denise Vitale family’s tan-colored cat which was still missing Wednesday night, who is loved like a member of the family, he said.
There were street closures in the area during the day. Parents were directed to a safe location when picking up schoolchildren leaving Raritan Valley School after 3 p.m. Greene said.
Dundall Place is off Cresci Boulevard, and near Line Road.
A collection to aid the family has been started by the Hazlet Fire Company #1’s Ladies Auxiliary.
A message on their Facebook page requested gift cards to help the family, but other donations are also welcome. For drop-off arrangements donors may contact Breanne Kuhnen at 732-895-7468 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Let’s come together and help our fellow Hazlet residents through this devastating time,” the post said.
The Raine Foundation of Hazlet is also involved and co-founder Patti Dickens was helping the homeowner earlier today with immediate needs. To contribute, contact RAINE at 732-865-3555 or email email@example.com.
A GoFundMe page has also been set up by Meghan Scripture.
To report additional efforts to help this Hazlet family, please post in the comments.