Fire badly damages Norwich home

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Norwich — A fire badly damaged a home at 702 New London Turnpike Monday morning.

Crews went to the two-story home across from the city golf course around 11 a.m. Flames continued to shoot from the attic 40 minutes later. Firefighters continued to douse the home at 12:30 p.m. but by then the attic was exposed through holes in the roof. The road remained closed as of 4 p.m., with firefighters still on the scene.

Firefighters said the two people who lived in the home made it out safely. Firefighters also rescued a cat. A dog who lived in the house bit two firefighters, sending one to the hospital for treatment of a minor bite.

Police Chief Patrick Daley said heat was a concern and firefighters were working in cycles of about 10 minutes or less.

"We're dying out here and we're in regular clothes," he said.

Firefighters brought packs of water to the scene from all directions. Some packs even arrived aboard a golf cart being driven by Eric Kundahl, assistant golf course superintendent. Kundahl said the firefighters provided the water, but he offered a ride to make the trip shorter.

An elderly man and his 42-year-old daughter lived in the house under a lifetime use arrangement through the previous house owner, Rose City Community Land Trust, a now-defunct privately run affordable housing entity. The land trust failed to pay taxes and the city took the house for back taxes on April 4. The family did not pay rent to the city.

Norwich Human Services Director Lee Ann Gomes said she had been working with the family to find a new home long before the fire and was “very close” to securing new housing. Norwich Human Services and the local chapter of the American Red Cross now is assisting the family with temporary housing after the fire.

Gomes said it was the owners’ dog that bit firefighters, and the dog ran away into the woods. No information was available Monday on whether the dog was up to date with its rabies vaccination shot.

Neighbors said they didn't know anyone lived in the two-family home, which is surrounded by tall trees.

Norwich city and volunteer departments as well as Mohegan and Montville firefighters responded to the fire. Animal control also responded. The fire marshal's office is investigating.

Staff Writer Claire Bessette contributed to this report.



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