The fire that ravaged a Howell Township house Wednesday night might have been triggered by a lit cigarette butt in the garage, according to investigators who deemed the blaze not suspicious in preliminary findings.

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Police said that the family of five, including three children under age 10, escaped unhurt before flames roared through the two-story home on Silversmith Court in the township's Glen Arden section.

Several Howell and Jackson fire companies pooled their efforts to tamp down the blaze, getting the upper hand after about 45 minutes. A 2017 Ford Escape in the driveway was destroyed, as was most of the house and its contents, police said.

The first 911 call arrived at about 9:13 PM. After establishing that the family was safely outside, Patrolment Peter Hochhauser, Nicholas Austin and John Barroqueiro, Jr., began evacuating neighboring houses in proximity of the intense flames and heat.

Firefighters from the Southard, Adelphia, Freewood Acres, Ramtown and Jackson Station 55 fire companies battled the blaze. Also responding to the incident were the Howell PD Investigations Unit, the township Fire Bureau and Office of Emergency Management, Howell Police EMS, Howell and Ramtown First Aid, and the Monmouth County Fire Marshall's and Prosecutor's Offices.

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