New Jersey

Couple Presumed Dead After Devastating Fire Guts Sprawling NJ Estate

Crews responded Friday to reports of a three-alarm fire at a home in Morris Township

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A couple is presumed to have died in a sprawling New Jersey estate charred to its foundation early Friday -- with rescuers turning efforts toward a recovery mission for the husband and wife.

Robert and Gemma Ricciardi, both in their 80s and part of the family-run Ricciardi Brothers paint supply stores, are suspected to have been at the Morris Township residence on Normandy Heights Road before a devastating fire burned it down.

"I have no words to say except that they’re the two greatest people in the world and that they don’t make people like them anymore," Tommy Casanola, the couple's godson, said.

It's not clear what caused the fire. Multiple trucks, including a fire engine and a bulldozer, were still at the scene by late morning. Firefighters tried to get the flames under control, but once the sun came up it was clear most of the home was gone.

Photos from the scene showed much of the structure had collapsed. Even the still-standing walls, and the chimney, looked like blackened relics of what may have once been used to hold up a home.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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