LAKE COMO, NJ — Firefighters were still at the scene nearly three hours after a house fire broke out at 2 Ripley Lane, which was once a popular bed-and-breakfast inn.

Belmar's three fire companies, assisted by others from surrounding communities, battled not only the blaze at the former Hollycroft Inn, but the bitterly cold temperatures and whipping winds after a call came in at about 4:15 p.m. on January 5, reporting that "heavy fire was showing from the rear of the structure."

According to firsthand reports, frozen fire hydrants hindered firefighting efforts for at least the first 25 minutes upon their arrival to the scene. There were no reported injuries, and any occupants of the house were able to evacuate, officials said.

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For several hours, smoke could be seen billowing from the sprawling  English-style home, which faces Lake Como and is two blocks from the beachfront. A cause has yet to be determined as firefighting efforts continued as of 6:45 p.m.

“With the temperature being 13 degrees and the high winds, these firefighters are out there in rough conditions,” said Belmar Mayor Matthew Doherty. Last week, Belmar and Lake Como entered into a shared services agreement for Belmar to take over fire protection services for its neighboring town.

Firefighters of Belmar’s three fire companies —- Union Fire Co., Goodwill Hose Fire Co.  and Volunteer Hook & Ladder Fire Co — were on the scene, along with fire companies from Spring Lake, Wall, Neptune and Neptune City. Belmar First Aid Squad also responded.

TAPinto Belmar/Lake Como is Belmar and Lake Como’s only free daily newspaper. Accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, it is a locally owned news organization serving the community. Our advertisers enable us to publish local online news at no charge. Sign up for our free daily e-News, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.