LITTLE SILVER: A QUICK STOP TO A FAST FIRE

The scene at 156 Birch Avenue as captured by fire Chief Nick Hubbard Jr. moments after his arrival Monday afternoon. Below, the charred remains of the townhouse Monday morning. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Little Silver firefighters stopped a fast-moving townhouse blaze from spreading to an adjoining unit Monday afternoon, Chief Nick Hubbard Jr. said Tuesday.

Though no flames were visible upon his arrival on the scene shortly after the 4:03 p.m. alarm, Hubbard told redbankgreen that the end unit of four attached homes was engulfed in fire within seconds.

“It had a decent jump on us, and that new construction was burning fast,” he said of the structure, which was built in 2010 at the cul-de-sac north end of Birch Avenue.

No one was injured as a woman and her three children self-evacuated the condo, which they were renting, according to police Chief Dan Shaffery.

According to Hubbard, Little Silver’s ladder truck arrived within eight minutes and volunteers attacked the fast-moving fire, which occurred on the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures in the mid-90s.

“The only thing that really hurt us was the heat and humidity,” said Hubbard. “We had to keep rotating guys out.”

Hubbard, leading his first major firefighting effort as chief, said the fire was under control within 45 minutes.

The blaze destroyed 156 Birch, with nothing left of the roof and only some charred framing visible on the second floor.

But an attic firewall and quick action by volunteer firefighters limited the impact on the adjoining unit, at 158, to smoke and water damage, plus an inspection hole cut into the roof, Hubbard said. The roof of a third unit, at 160, also was cut into.

Utilities were cut to all four units in the building Monday night, and official didn’t immediately know when service might be restored to those that are habitable.

Monmouth County property records show 156 Birch is owned by Erica Murphy, who could not be located for comment.

A GoFundMe page identified the victims as Erica and Clint Marsh. As of shortly before noon Tuesday, the effort to raise funds to help them get back on their feet had raised more than $14,000.

In addition to Little Silver volunteer firefighters, responders came from Fair Haven, Rumson/Sea Bright, Shrewsbury and Tinton Falls, with Red Bank providing coverage at the borough firehouse.