By Eric Francis
All of the residents and the herd of Jersey dairy cows survived unharmed, but a fire that broke out just minutes after midnight on Friday morning heavily damaged one of the oldest remaining farmhouses in Woodstock.
The blaze at the Albert and Ann Bassett residence just north of the village on Route 12 resulted in firefighters from eight departments being called out to help. Most of the mutual aid companies returned to their stations just after 2 a.m., but Woodstock crews remained on the scene until nearly noon Friday.
Woodstock Fire Chief L.D. Sutherland Jr. said that despite the head start the flames had, his volunteers were still able to save part of the antique structure.
“I was the first one there and that house was just going pretty darn good,” the chief recalled. “There is a hydrant right on the corner so we got in there and knocked it down. The oldest part of the house is still standing. It’s an old landmark for sure.”
The Bassetts’ son Robert is the third generation to farm on the property and he was the first to spot the fire from his portion of the house, Sutherland said.
“When Robert went to go to bed he looked out there and the shed was on fire,” the chief explained.
“They had one of those outdoor wood-burning furnaces and it started somewhere in the vicinity of that,” Sutherland said. “It was a typical old farmhouse with an attached garage and an attached shed. The shed went first and it just headed into the main house.”
Dispatchers quickly called in help from the neighboring South Woodstock, Bridgewater, Teago, North Pomfret, Hartford, Hartland, Windsor and West Windsor fire departments, which sent a combination of additional engines and water tanker trucks to the scene.
“For additional water we ran a tanker shuttle from Billings Farm, which is just down the road there,” Sutherland said.
The Red Cross came out to help the displaced members of the Bassett family who are now staying in a hotel in downtown Woodstock.
“It’s a shame because it is still very much a working farm,” Sutherland said, adding, “And and they are such nice people and hard workers.”
By Eric Francis
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