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Searchers combed the woods in Orland for about six hours on Monday looking for a woman who was last seen walking from her burning home in Bucksport a week ago.
Two hunters in the area of Great Pond Mountain near Fish Hatchery Road called 911 at about 6:30 a.m. and reported seeing a woman whom investigators have tentatively identified as Aza Jerome Vasylyk, 56, of Bucksport. She was last seen leaving her Town Farm Road home on Monday, Nov. 11. A dozen people, a tracking dog and a search and rescue aircraft looked for her until 12:30 p.m., said Lt. Corey Bagley of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators remain puzzled as to why Vasylyk, described by a family member as “a gifted artist, skilled gardener and a strong hard worker” and very intelligent, remains at large. She is Ukrainian, does not fluently speak English and may be timid if approached, Bucksport Deputy Police Chief David E. Winchester said.
She was last seen in Bucksport walking on Route 15 near Kinney Drive headed toward downtown on Nov. 11, Winchester said.
The details of Monday’s supposed sighting remain sketchy, but the physical description the hunters provided generally matches Vasylyk. Also, one hunter told investigators that he did not believe that the woman he saw spoke English, Bagley said.
“We don’t have any idea where she was going. We are not even sure that it was the same person. We are leaning toward that it was,” Bagley said. “Right now we are just trying to get all the information together.”
The fire heavily damaged the home Vasylyk shares with her husband, Timothy Jerome. The Maine state fire marshal’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on what started the fire or whether foul play is suspected. Winchester declined to comment on the fire.
One sighting report described Vasylyk as carrying a dark backpack, a sign that she might be prepared to handle the cold and wet weather blanketing the area, Winchester said.
Anyone who has seen Vasylyk or has information about her should call 911. Owners of camps in the Orland area should check their properties and call 911 if they see Vasylyk or signs that she has used their property, Winchester said.
The sheriff’s office responded to the Orland call, but Bucksport police are handling the investigation into Vasylyk’s whereabouts, Winchester said.
“We are definitely concerned about her well-being,” Winchester said.