Victim Still Unidentified as Investigators Look for Cause of South Bend (IN) Fatal Explosive Fire

Joseph Dits

South Bend Tribune, Ind.


Aug. 29—SOUTH BEND — A state fire marshal is trying to determine the cause of a deadly and explosive house fire after the body of a man was found in the debris early Friday morning on Kern Road.

Here in the rural 22000 block of Kern, nothing is left standing of the house except for a small red brick wall, surrounded by burnt ruble and mature trees that are now singed. Two separate barn-like buildings behind the house seemed to avoid damage. Yellow tape marks it as an investigation scene. Bits of insulation have fallen into a next-door neighbor’s yard.

St. Joseph County Police and township fire crews were called to the house about 2 a.m. Friday on reports of a loud explosion and fire. According to a news release, officials said firefighters and police arrived to find that the house was fully engulfed in flames.

By 2:30 a.m., fire investigators found the body of a man in the debris. At the time of the fire, family members told police that they didn’t know where the male resident of the home was.

A man who said he was his brother stopped by the scene Saturday and said that family members have been notified of the fire but that they are waiting for police to positively identify the body. He avoided identifying himself or divulging much, because the investigation is ongoing.

The county coroner’s office likely won’t know the fire victim’s identity until Monday or Tuesday, county police spokesman Troy Warner said.

Also, he said, a state fire marshal, who investigates fatal fires, may not have a possible cause for the fire for a couple of weeks.

The news release that Warner issued Friday said that, after speaking with family members, county police believe there is a chance that the explosion and fire were set intentionally, but officials have not determined that is the case. Warner said county police are still gathering information and passing it on to the fire marshal.


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