by Gail P. Montany
Firefighters from four towns battled a blaze that broke out early this morning and consumed the upstairs portion of the Bayley-Hazen Road home of Maurice and Ruth Chandler.
No injuries were reported, said Peacham Fire Chief Jeff Berwick. The fire was contained to second floor, which was used only for storage. The first floor sustained water and smoke damage.
A dazed-appearing Ann Goss watched flames shoot from the roof of the 150year-old wood-frame house. She said she and the Chandlers had been asleep in downstairs bedrooms when the fire was discovered shortly before 3 a.m. by Mr. Chandler. He had arisen a short time earlier, said Coss, but could not get back to sleep. He heard a noise and checked the house to find the upstairs in flames.
Goss alerted residents in the ajoining house, occupied by Paul and Darlene Chandler, then called the fire department. A number of animals, including numerous cats, a dog and a pet chicken, were successfully evacuated. Ruth Chandler, who is confined to a wheelchair, was also taken out of the house safely.
The fire, said Berwick, was stopped at a shed between the two residences and did not affect the adjoining house.
Peacham, Barnet, Danville and Groton firefighters, as well as Danville Rescue, were on the scene within minutes. The blaze was under control in less than an hour, despite the need to draw water from Ewell's Pond.
"All the departments made a good stop in saving the other part of the dwelling," said Berwick. "They did a good job."
No origin has been determined for the fire which will be investigated by state police, said Berwick, adding that it is not considered a suspicious event. The family will move into the Paul Chandler residence for the time being, said Berwick.
"Firefighters did an excellent job," said Paul Chandler. "That house is so old that I was always afraid that if a fire ever occurred there, nothing could be saved, but they saved it." The house has been in the family for 145 years. A part of the house which did not burn is 200 years old, said Chandler.
The local chapter of the American Red Cross is assisting the family with damaged belongings.