Waterford — Fire departments from Waterford, Montville, East Lyme and New London responded to a house fire at 9 Laurel Glen Road shortly after 3 p.m. Saturday.
The owner of the house, Sharon Palmer, said all five of the occupants, including her daughter, her daughter's partner and three children, weren't at home at the time of the fire.
Palmer is the state labor commissioner and is a longtime Waterford and state Democrat and labor leader.
Quaker Hill Fire Department Assistant Chief Vincent Ukleja said that, when the first firefighters arrived, the fire was blowing out of the main living room window and the garage, with heavy, black smoke billowing from the front door and side windows.
He said firefighters had everything under control in about 45 minutes but stayed an extra couple of hours to make sure the hot spots were quenched and the fire didn't rekindle.
Quaker Hill Fire Department Capt. Todd Goodhind said damage to the structure was significant.
Sharon Palmer said, "No one was hurt or injured; that is the important thing. It's a house, and it was empty when everything happened, so thank God for that."
A neighbor, Kathy Mertz, whose house is behind the Laurel Glen Road home, said she saw the smoke from the fire and came over. By that time, 911 had already been called, she said.
The family's two cats, a parrot and a lizard died in the incident, Ukleja said.
The fire marshal's office is handling the investigation to determine the cause of the fire.