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Saturday, July 20, 2024


Fire Destroys Villas Home, Displaces Longtime Owners

Erma Volunteer Fire Company Facebook photo
Heavy flames and smoke engulfed a Maryland Avenue home in Villas on June 20, displacing the longtime owners.

By Christopher South

VILLAS – A couple who lived in their Maryland Avenue home for five decades was displaced after the house was badly damaged by a two-alarm fire on Thursday, June 20.

According to a GoFundMe page set up by Rita Famiano D’Amato, her brother, Anthony Famiano, who will be 79 on June 28, and his wife, Maryann, 74, owned the house at 138 Maryland Ave. for 50 years.

On June 20 at around 1:50 p.m., the Villas Volunteer Fire Company was dispatched to a reported fire at the residence.

When the battalion commander of the Town Bank Volunteer Fire Company arrived, he found the detached garage heavily involved with fire, extending to the two-story, single-family dwelling.

Erma Volunteer Fire Company Squad 62, Towns Bank Volunteer Fire Company Tower 61 and Green Creek Volunteer Fire Company Squad 73-Rapid Intervention Team also responded, as did Villas Quint 60, which conducted a primary search when it arrived.

Due to the fire conditions and extreme heat, a second alarm was transmitted, adding Quint 72 from the Rio Grande Volunteer Fire Company, Rescue 3 out of Wildwood and Goshen Volunteer Fire Company Squad 74 to the scene.

It was quickly confirmed that all occupants were out of the dwelling.

Firefighters were forced to contend with heavy smoke while battling the blaze. Photo credit: Villas Volunteer Fire Company Facebook page

The cause of the fire is under investigation. The Lower Township Bureau of Fire Safety, the Cape May County Fire Marshal’s Office and the Lower Township Police Department Detectives Unit are conducting the investigation.

Lower Township police and Inspira EMS assisted at the scene; the Middle Township Ambulance Corps provided fire rehab. The West Cape May Fire Company, Cape May Court House Fire Company and Dennisville Fire Company provided coverage.

Crews operated on the scene for approximately four hours.

D’Amato said via GoFundMe that she is raising money for her brother and sister-in-law, with a goal of $5,000.

“Their house burned down on June 20 and they lost everything,” she wrote. “The family is helping them as much as we can, but until the insurance kicks in we are asking for a little bit more help.”

The Maryland Avenue home was left uninhabitable after a fire that apparently started in the garage spread to the house. Photo credit: Erma Volunteer Fire Company

Besides financial contributions, D’Amato said, food, toiletries, clothes and other items are being requested to help the Famianos. The couple is now depending on relatives and friends for a place to stay.

“Can you imagine, after 50 years in this home, starting over is absolutely devastating,” she said. “No one should ever have to go through something like this.”

She described the couple as “the most kind-hearted, giving people” who would help anyone who needed it.

Anyone interested in helping the Famianos can visit

Call Christopher South at 609-886-8600 x-128 or email


Christopher South is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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