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Apparent Chimney Fire Damages Lake Drive Home

Father of homeowner says, 'No one was hurt. That's a blessing.'

An investigation is underway into the cause of a fire that caused "significant damage" to a home on Lake Drive, just outside Boonton, late Monday night, according to authorities.

Just before 10 p.m., received a call regarding a house fire on Lake Drive.  Fire Co. took the lead in responding and was assisted by the and the Boonton Fire Department. Police officers and responded to the scene as well.

It took about 90 minutes for firefighters to extinguish the blaze and inspect for lingering hotspots.

District 6 Fire Chief Keith McCormick said the homeowners, Dr. Andrea Antonelli-Rella and Nick Rella, were in the home when the fire broke out. The couple were able to flee the house safely, he said.

The chief said preliminary reports indicate a chimney fire, however, he noted that the cause of the blaze officially remains under investigation.

"The house has quite a bit of damage, but our guys made a really good stop," McCormick said. "The fire was confined to the attic and didn't get into the living space, although there is smoke damage. But our firefighters were able to put out the fire before things could get worse, just in time."

McCormick added that no one was injured and that the Rellas' pets—five exotic birds and three dogs—were rescued.

"They're all OK," he said.

Dr. Patrick Antonelli, bundled up against the cold, stood and stared at his daughter and son-in-law's damaged dwelling.

"Such a beautiful house," he said with a sigh. "They bought it in 2008. They were having work done on the back kitchen and the porch. Now, they'll have to do more."

Antonelli mentioned that the chimney had been checked about a month ago, so the fire came as a surprise.

"The chimney just collapsed. The internal structure was just too old, I guess," he said, adding that the police and firefighters were very helpful.

"My daughter is a veterinarian. Her husband is a police officer in Maplewood. It makes you wonder why this happens, why bad things happen to good people," Antonelli continued. "But no one was hurt. Even the animals were saved. That's a blessing. Now, we have to carry on."

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