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By CLAIRE BESSETTE
Day Staff Writer
Norwich — A man believed to be the lone occupant of a two-story house at 11 Grove St. received minor burns in a fire Wednesday afternoon that caused major damage and forced evacuation of one neighboring house.
Norwich Fire Battalion Chief Jim Kurasz said the man was treated by a crew from American Ambulance for a minor burn. Once the fire was under control, firefighters wearing breathing tanks searched the house and found no other occupants, Kurasz said.
He said crews would make a second search after dousing hot spots and opening walls where fire still burned.
Flames blew out windows and shot through the flat roof of the odd-shaped structure at the triangular junction of Grove Street and Grove Place shortly after 3 p.m. Firefighters used chain saws and crowbars to rip open roofing material to get at flames beneath. Thick black smoke billowed as fire hoses hit the flames.
The bottom story has a stucco façade, while the upper story was wood shingled. As the fire burned behind the outside wall, the wooden siding smoldered and caught fire in spots. Kurasz directed fire crews to attack the flames behind the walls.
Neighbor Angel Fernandez, 14, said he and his mother live three houses up Grove Street from the fire.
"We saw a little smoke coming out, and then the windows blew out with fire," Fernandez said. "There was glass everywhere."
As they prepared to call 911, they heard the sirens approaching.
Firefighters evacuated 11 occupants from the house next door at 5 Grove St. when the wind shifted and officials feared it could catch fire, resident Tammy Lake said. She said she looked out the window and saw the "whole house on fire." She said debris was "raining down on us."
Scott Spahr was at his mother's house on nearby Boswell Avenue when he saw the smoke and worried that it could be his brother's house — 5 Grove St. — and raced to the scene.
Tax records list the address of the damaged house as 11 Grove St., although one door had No. 9 on the outside. The 1920 two-family house is owned by M&K Management LLC of Guilford.