1822 Field Farm house in Chester destroyed in ‘suspicious’ early morning blaze

 

 

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Firefighters continued to work to put out the blaze at the Field Farm house on Blue Hill Road shortly after 6 a.m. Monday. Click photo to launch gallery.

 

By Shawn Cunningham

At 4:30 Monday morning, Chester firefighters responded to a house fire at the corner of Blue Hill Road and Route 11 west in Chester.  The fire destroyed the brick and shingle-siding Field Farm, built in 1822 and owned by Ferren and Leah Bratton. Leah Bratton had been the director of the Little School in Weston for a number of years.

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All photos by Shawn Cunningham.

Fire departments from Rockingham, Bellows Falls, Ludlow, Springfield and Proctorsville, VT,  as well as  Charlestown  and Walpole, NH, responded to the call. Around 90 minutes into the response,  electricity throughout the area was shut off, forcing both Green Mountain Union High and Chester-Andover Elementary schools into a two-hour delay.

Because the home sat at a V-corner right off Route 11, east-west traffic along that artery was shut down much of the morning, sending commuters through back routes including up Popple Dungeon Road or Lovers Lane to Route 103.

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The gable end with the Field Farm sign.

According to Chester Police Chief Richard Cloud, the house had been broken into two weeks ago. “Some guys picking up trash along the highway spotted a broken window,” said Cloud. The police investigated and said there was no damage or apparent theft.

By 10 a.m. Monday, the state Fire Marshal was on the scene investigating and Chester Fire Chief Matt Wilson called the fire “definitely suspicious.” At the controls of a Chester Town excavator, highway superintendent Graham Kennedy knocked down multiple gable ends and a chimney that posed Fieldfarm fire5a danger to passersby.

One gable end that remained bore a plaque that said 1822 Field Farm. The Brattons could not be reached for comment.

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Later Monday morning, Public Works director Graham Kennedy came in with an excavator to take down the chimney.

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