By Steve Beck, Al Novack and Robin Rieger
MARMORA, N.J. (CBS) – One person was killed in an intense fire that broke out inside a home and antique store in Cape May County early Wednesday morning.
“We knew somebody was in there from neighbors reports”, said Marmora Fire Chief Jay Newman.
When firefighters arrived on the scene of the house fire adjacent to Peach’s Antiques business Wednesday morning, they were met with a wall of flames.
The fire started at about 2 a.m. inside a building on S. Shore Road in the Marmora section of Upper Township, New Jersey.
Additional fire companies, including some from Atlantic County, were called in to assist with battling the fire.
“The house was totally engulfed in flames top to bottom, left to right, two floors (they were) coming out of every window”, said Newman.
The fire was placed under control in about 90 minutes.
For several hours, firefighters were unable to enter the home portion of the structure because it was not safe.
Relatives say 50-year-old Henry Peach lived there and officials say there was no way to get him out.
Peach’s home dated back to 1835. He grew up there with his brother, John, who watched in dismay as crews knocked down what was left of his childhood home.
Officials say the body recovered in the debris was the sole resident.
“I’m just upset totally,” said Guy Streeter, Peach’s cousin.
The home portion of the structure was completely destroyed, but crews were able to save the majority of the antique store.
He says Peach had carried on the business after his father died two years ago.
“He’d always find stuff through Ocean City and around, pick it up and bring it back here, turn it into something he liked and sell it,” Streeter said.
He says Peach’s life was troubled over the loss of other family members and the business wasn’t doing well in this economy
“I think he probably was drinking and smoking and probably went to sleep on it”, said Streeter.
The Fire Chief says the homes timber construction fueled the fire and heavy winds fanned it.
There are no hydrants in the immediate area.
The Chief says water was brought in on tankers.
New Jersey State Police and the State Fire Marshall office are leading the investigation.