UPPER FREEHOLD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A morning storm and a lightning strike were blamed for a fire that destroyed a home in Upper Freehold Township, New Jersey on Thursday.

As CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock reported, the old farmhouse at 13 Burlington Path Rd. in Upper Freehold Township erupted in flames around 8 a.m. Thursday.

“The initial report was of a house struck by lightning; one of the neighbors called it in,” said Hope Fire Company Assistant Chief Jay Davidson.

By the time firefighters arrived, the house was completely engulfed.

Firefighters had a tricky time getting to the house. The driveway for the house is more than half a mile long, and so muddy after more than 2 inches of rainfall that fire engines got stuck.

“Once we ordered brush trucks, then we started making an attack with the brush trucks, then we got a supply line in and made the final attack,” Davidsons aid.

Firefighters pulled hundreds of feet of hose through a neighbor’s yard to tackle the fire. They fought it for hours – demolishing parts of the already charred home even more to get to hot spots out of reach.

Freehold home destroyed by lightning strike (CBS 2)

Freehold home destroyed by lightning strike (CBS 2)

Twelve fire companies from Monmouth, Ocean and Mercer counties responded to the scene.

“We needed the man power, a lot of the hose had to be dragged in by hand,” Davidson said.

Lightning starts about 4,400 house fires each year, costing somewhere around $283 million in damages. Oftentimes, the fires result not from a quick surge of lightning, but from a continuous flow of electricity that causes an object struck to heat up and ignite.

Too shaken to speak on camera, the homeowner told CBS 2’s Murdock through her tears that the home was in her family for 50 years. Inside were all the items she holds close to heart, such as her mother’s crocheting and antiques.

Those items the homeowner held dear ended up as just burnt debris on the waterlogged lawn. The homeowner said she made it out with only the clothes she had on, her purse, and her phone — reflecting on the fact that anything can happen at any time.

By the afternoon, all that was left of the home was two chimneys.

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