Coroner: Remains found in fire those of small animal

Coroner: Remains found in fire those of small animal

DANVILLE — Remains found at the scene of a fire in western Vermilion County late Friday night are not human, according to the office of Vermilion County Coroner Peggy Johnson.

The resident of the farmhouse southeast of Homer, 7886 N 200 E Road in Vermilion County, has not been accounted for, and officials thought the remains might have belonged to the resident.

But a news release from the coroner's office Monday afternoon stated the remains were examined by an anthropologist, who determined they are not human remains and likely from a small animal.

Johnson said it does not mean the sole resident of the house was not in the fire, just that the remains did not belong to that person. Johnson said she has been in contact with the resident's relatives. She said considering all the evidence at this point, the belief is that he was there.

Johnson said the next step is for the state fire marshal's office to return to the scene of the fire and look for more remains.

"Until they find more bones, then we step aside," said Johnson, who explained that if more remains are found, it's a lengthy process determining whether they are human and then identifying whom they belong to through DNA. "It would take a while."

The Homer Fire Department responded to the blaze that was reported at 10:30 p.m. Friday by a passer-by who saw the flames from 2 miles away. The home was engulfed and the roof starting to collapse when firefighters arrived during white-out conditions and frigid temperatures. The house was a total loss, and the cause is undetermined due to the extent of the damage, according to Homer Fire Chief Don Happ.

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