BELMAR — Two adjoining 110-year-old homes were destroyed by a five- alarm fire on the Jersey Shore early Wednesday.

Two historic buildings on 10th Avenue in Belmar after a fire
Two historic buildings on 10th Avenue in Belmar after a fire (Matt Doherty)

Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty said no one was injured by the fire that started in one of the homes on 10th Avenue and spread next door. He credited smoke alarms for allowing  three people in the first home  "Without smoke alarms there would have been a lot slimmer chance of them getting out safely," Doherty told New Jersey 101.5.

Neighbor Frank Hurley said the house where the fire started was engulfed with flames coming out of the roof, throwing heat towards his own home two doors down. The radiant heat is what set the second home on fire, according to Doherty, who said two residents in that house also made it out without injury, Pets from both homes also made it out safely.

"You saw the flames and the smoke and all the sparks coming off the house. It's like snow coming towards you and you pray your own house doesn't go up in flames. Thank God it wasn't one of those windy nights," Hurley said, adding a wind would have made it much worse.

Doherty said both homes are total losses and the first home that caught fire will be torn down. "It's in imminent threat of falling over," said Doherty, adding that from the northside of the building one can see right through.

Doherty said the fire is not considered suspicious.

Hurley felt badly for the two families who lost their homes. "These are my neighbors, the people you wave to when you go by," Hurley said, adding that one of the families lived in one of the homes for over 30 years. "They kept their house up so well and to see it gone is just amazing."

Doherty said fire companies from Spring Lake, Spring Lake Heights, Avon, Wall and Ocean Township joined Belmar firefighters put out he blazes. No firefighters were hurt, according to Doherty.

"I am thankful for these people who without fear" who responded to the fire from as far away as Red Bank, Hurley said of the firefighters. "These people are focused on just one thing," he said.

Doherty said that historic, century old homes with many unique features are common in Belmar. "The fact that these have been here for generations with a tremendous amount of lose them overnight compounds the fact that it was a terrible loss."

Vin Ebenau and Lou Russo contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at

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