rumson fire 042015 2rumson fire 042015 1Fire caused extensive damage Monday afternoon to a Rumson home slated as the showcase for the monthlong VNA Stately Homes by the Sea fundraiser.

No one was injured in the four-alarm blaze at 76 Buena Vista Avenue, an 1880s-era mansion known as Blithewald. As of 3:30 p.m., three hours after the fire was reported, smoke could still be seen rising through the roof, which had gaping holes in it. There was no immediate official word on a possible cause.

“It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said a heartbroken VNA volunteer who asked not to be named, standing outside the Blithewald gate.

The fire is the second tragedy in recent years to strike the VNA event. In 2013, a van shuttling tour participants hit a dumptruck in Rumson, causing at least one serious injury. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)