An early Saturday morning fire extensively damaged a house in Toms River, authorities said.
Shortly before 8:00 a.m., units from Toms River Fire Companies 1 & 2 responded to 312 Franklin Avenue and found exterior fire on the left side of the dwelling that extended to the interior of the structure, said Toms River Fire Prevention Director James Mercready.
Under the direction of Toms River Fire Company #2 Chief Patrick Beebe, firefighters were able to minimize fire damage with an aggressive initial attack, Mercready added.
The three occupants were able to safely self-evacuate from the dwelling along with several pets.
The investigation, under the director of Toms River Bureau of Fire Prevention Inspector Kevin Esposito, found that the accidental fire broke out due to a malfunctioning portable propane heater that was operating in the dining room of the dwelling, according to Mercready.
The primary fuel oil heating system was inoperable and awaiting repair, he added.
Authorities said that the structure is unsafe and cannot be reoccupied until the homeowners complete repairs.