NORRIDGEWOCK — Fire tore through a large house at 222 Waterville Road Saturday, destroying the house and a three-bay garage connected to it and leaving a 74-year old woman homeless.

Judith Cochran was not at home when the fire broke out, according to her son, Andrew, 47, who arrived at the scene.

“She was at a camp meeting in Freeport,” he said. “Thank God she was there with her dog. If it had been a normal church day, she would have left the dog in the house.”

Norridgewock fire Chief David Jones said the large gray house, built in the 1970s, was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived after the 10:37 a.m. call.

He said the fire is believed to have started in the breezeway of the house but he did not know the cause.

“I don’t know if we will know, to tell you the truth,” Jones said as he supervised the scene.

Jones, who said two state fire investigators were there trying to determine the cause, said in his 43 years as chief he had never seen so much fire as it moved quickly through a garage and house.

“This is a heavily traveled road,” Jones said. You could see the fire from East Madison up to Anson, there was so much smoke.”

More than 50 firefighters from many towns responded to the fire and some departments stood by for those that drove to Norridgewock, according to Norridgewock fire Captain Todd Pineo.

“We stopped the fire before it got to two outbuildings in the back,” Pineo said.

Firefighters from Norridgewock, Skowhegan, Smithfield, Fairfield, Oakland, New Sharon, Madison, Anson/North Anson, Athens and Canaan worked at the scene and Hartland firefighters were among those who stood by at local fire stations. No firefighters had been injured as of about 1:30 p.m., according to Jones and Pineo.

Andrew Cochran said his mother had lived in the house many years and he remembers living in it as a child. He said his mother would have a place to stay, as he lives not far away.

“There is a 75th birthday for her tomorrow so I was buying ice cream in Skowhegan and my friend called me up and said, ‘Your mother’s house is on fire,'” he said, adding that his mother’s actual birthday is July 24.

He said he was he was amazed and appreciative of the firefighter turnout Saturday.

“They probably would like to be enjoying the weekend,” he said.

Alice Berry, who lives on Martin Stream Road in a mobile home she owns but rents the land it sits on from Judith Cochran, was watching the firefighters work from across the road. She said she planned to try to collect clothing and other necessities for her landlord because she lost everything in the fire.

“Whatever she needs,” Berry said. “She’s a nice lady. She’s really easy to get along with. I’ve rented from her for about four years.”

Neither Andrew Berry nor Jones, the chief, knew if the home was insured.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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