A 92-year-old World War II veteran and his wife were home in Oxford Township when a fast-moving fire ignited Friday, but both escaped to safety, authorities said.
It was reported shortly after 1:30 p.m. at 56 Pequest Road in the Warren County community.
Neither the residents nor any responders were injured, according to Lt. John Kaufmann with the Washington Township Police Department that patrols Oxford.
The veteran was tinkering with a lawnmower when it backfired and lit combustible material beneath an elevated deck, Warren County Fire Marshal Joe Lake said.
The man tried to use a garden hose to put it out, but strong winds on the hilltop property gave the fire too big of a head start, Lake said. The home was a total loss.
"They lost everything they own," Lake said.
The couple has family they can stay with, according to Lake.
Responding with the Oxford Township Volunteer Fire Department were the Mountain Lake, Independence Township, Hackettstown, Mansfield Township, Washington Borough, Washington Township and Allamuchy Township fire departments; Oxford Township Rescue Squad and the fire marshal, according to Kaufmann.