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Fire Moves Quickly at Norwich Home

  • Firefighters wait for water during a structure fire in Norwich Vt., on March 5, 2014. <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    Firefighters wait for water during a structure fire in Norwich Vt., on March 5, 2014.
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck Purchase photo reprints »

  • Firefighters fight a structure fire in Norwich Vt., on March 5, 2014. <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    Firefighters fight a structure fire in Norwich Vt., on March 5, 2014.
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck Purchase photo reprints »

  • Firefighters wait for water during a structure fire in Norwich Vt., on March 5, 2014. <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    Firefighters wait for water during a structure fire in Norwich Vt., on March 5, 2014.
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck Purchase photo reprints »

  • Firefighters wait for water during a structure fire in Norwich Vt., on March 5, 2014. <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck
  • Firefighters fight a structure fire in Norwich Vt., on March 5, 2014. <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck
  • Firefighters wait for water during a structure fire in Norwich Vt., on March 5, 2014. <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

Norwich — Multiple departments responded to a fire Wednesday night on New Boston Road, where a blaze quickly overtook an old farm house. There were no reported injuries.

By 10 p.m., several officials at the scene said that the homeowner, retired school teacher Judy Pond, was not home at the time of the fire but had not yet been notified.

Pond lived alone at the home, said a neighbor, Steve Wilson.

Norwich Police Officer Charles Rataj said that at about 9:20, he was the second person to respond to the scene. A volunteer firefighter who lives nearby also had responded and was “just coming out the front door,” Rataj said.

“It was going pretty good,” Rataj said, estimating flames to be at least 18 to 20 feet and “up over the roof” and getting “progressively worse.”

A neighbor, Julie Stevenson, said her family was preparing for bed when her 10-year-old daughter noticed the flames.

“She just said, ‘Why does Judy have a bonfire?’ ” Stevenson said. The family called 911.

By 9:40 p.m., large flames were still shooting out from the two-story home, which is situated up a slightly inclined driveway. Officials were turning away traffic on New Boston Road, which connects downtown Norwich with Thetford.

Rataj and Wilson said Pond had a dog and a cat, both of which were unaccounted for. Wilson, who lives next door, said the dog was older and had trouble seeing and hearing.

Wilson said he had just ended a phone conversation around 9 p.m. when he looked out the window and saw a “big” blaze. At that point, one fire truck was on the scene, he said, but it was soon followed by several more.

Later in the evening, a passing motorist crashed into a firetruck near the scene, which hampered firefighting efforts, which were already complicated by freezing temperatures.

Responders included fire crews from Norwich, Thetford, Hartford, Hartland, Lebanon, Lyme and Hanover. Fire crews were still on the scene late Wednesday night.

Stevenson said Pond was a longtime English teacher at Richmond Middle School before retiring in recent years.

Wilson said she had lived at the home since long before he moved next door in the early 1990s.

The neighbors both approached Rataj at the scene and asked him to let Pond know that she could stay at their homes if needed.

“Poor Judy,” Wilson said later, as he watched firefighters battle the blaze. “I don’t know what she’s going to do; I don’t know what she’s going to do now.”