Fire may have taken life in Vermilion County

A fire in western Vermilion County late Friday night may have claimed a life.

Homer Fire Chief Don Happ said remains were found at a fire at a farmhouse southeast of Homer, at 7886 N 200 E Road in Vermilion County. A resident of the home was not accounted for, he said, but DNA analysis would have to be conducted to confirm the identity of the remains.

The fire was reported at 10:30 p.m. by a passer-by who saw the flames from 2 miles away.

Happ, who was the first to arrive, said the entire home was engulfed in flames and the roof was starting to collapse.

Whiteout conditions and frigid temperatures made the situation "treacherous" for firefighters, he said. "It was the biggest challenge I've ever had."

Some 60 firefighters from seven departments responded to the fire.

"Firemen couldn't work too long," he said. "Every 20 minutes, with the wind chill the way it was, we had to rotate."

The fire was out by 12:30 a.m. Saturday, but firefighters didn't clear the scene until early afternoon.

Happ said the home is a total loss, estimating damage to the building and contents at $100,000. Wind blew flames to a semitrailer truck, parked 30 feet from the house, destroying it as well.

The cause of the fire will be listed as undetermined because of the extent of the damage, Happ said. The fire remains under investigation.

In addition to the Homer department, the St. Joseph-Stanton, Ogden, Royal, Broadlands-Longview and Allerton departments helped fight the fire.

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