LITCHFIELD — Firefighters spent several hours battling wind and flames this morning as a fire ripped through an unoccupied house on Plains Road.

Fire Chief Stan Labbe said the house and attached barn at 702 Plains Road was owned by Janice Payson, and both structures were leveled in the fire.

No one was injured, Labbe said.

Payson said the fire’s cause is a mystery. Someone recently stole copper piping out of the house, but there is no indication the two events are connected, she said.

“I had no heat on in there and nothing I can think of that ever would have started it,” she said.

The fire was reported by a passerby about 5:30 a.m., Labbe said. There was almost no hope of saving the large barn and two-story house.

“It’s completely gone. It was gone before we got to it,” Labbe said. “The barn was down when we got here and the house was on its way.”

Dozens of firefighters from Dresden, Farmingdale, Gardiner, Monmouth, Richmond and West Gardiner joined Litchfield crews in fighting the blaze. Gusting winds made the task difficult.

“It was blowing right to the road so we couldn’t set up near the road,” Labbe said. “We had to set up farther back.”

Firefighters had the blaze under control in a few hours, but were still there at mid-morning dousing hot spots.

“I have an excavator here now knocking it down,” Labbe said. “I don’t want it kindling in the wind.”

Labbe called for an investigator with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, though the extensive damage will make it difficult to determine how the fire started.

“Nobody lived there, but there was electrical to the barn,” Labbe said.

Payson, who lives in China, bought the house in 2007 and has since rented it out.

“I had just finished cleaning it and painting it and getting it ready again,” she said.

The house was semi-furnished. Payson said she kept tools and horse tack for her boyfriend’s horse, which was housed in the barn. The horse was not harmed.

“He was in the pasture, thank God,” Payson said.

Payson said the home is insured, but she is unsure how much her plan will cover. She hopes to rebuild, though she said the pipe theft and fire make her nervous about owning a second property.

“I’d like to have something for the horse,” she said. “I would rent it out again.”

Craig Crosby–621-5642

[email protected]

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