A stately Sycamore Avenue estate dating to 1903 went up in flames Monday afternoon in a four-alarm fire.
Volunteer firefighters and emergency rescue squads turned out from Shrewsbury, Northside (Tinton Falls), Little Silver, Red Bank and Eatontown.
"It came in around 1:15 p.m." Shrewsbury Fire Department Chief Pete Gibson said outside 469 Sycamore, where crews on ladders were dousing the roof with water.
"We had heavy fire showing on the first floor upon our arrival," said. "We made an interior attack and from that point we found it was in the walls and had climbed up into the attic and the basement and started making its run throughout the rest of the house, across the whole entire attic."
The way old houses like these were built is known as "balloon construction," said Gibson, and fire can easily spread through them. "The walls have big voids in them. They don't have any fire stops and they run up and down without anything in them," he said.
The chief said he did not immediately know if the homeowners were home at the time the fire started, but he did know they were safely evacuated.
According to Monmouth County property tax records, the 7042 square foot house is owned by Jeffrey and Joan Rich. In 2012, it was assessed for $1,057,000. A man who bystanders identified as the owner was on the scene in his overcoat, speaking to police and firefighters about the layout of the house inside.
A red tarp had been laid out on the grass away from the house, and several pieces of wooden furniture and antique art, including a doll, were spread on it.
West Long Branch helped with water supply, and Rumson-Fair Haven provided the rapid intervention teams, Sea Bright also supported the effort. Sycamore was lined with vehicles from the Red Cross, as well as Monmouth County services.
Police shut down Sycamore Avenue between Route 35 and Samara Drive through the rush hour while firefighters worked to put out the flames.