Body of missing man found in burned PA home three weeks after fire


Watch WPXI-TV story on the body discovered

Tom Fontaine,

A fire restoration company working Monday inside a Washington County house that burned more than three weeks ago discovered the body of a man who lived there, authorities said.

The Washington County Coroner’s Office identified the man as Edward Donald Kerns, 53.

Fire heavily damaged Kerns’ home on Park Avenue in South Franklin Township on Dec. 3. Firefighters searched the home for remains after the fire was put out but found none, the coroner’s office said. Kerns’ family reported Kerns missing after the fire.


The coroner and Kerns’ mother both said crews searched the house the day of the fire, but didn’t think anyone was home. Arlene Kerns said crews from the South Franklin Township Volunteer Fire Department even used thermal imaging technology that day, but they didn’t find her son’s body. The family then filed a missing-persons report.

Arlene Kerns said she had been holding out hope that her son was alive. But on Monday, her son’s body was found in a closet buried underneath clothes. 

She said she believes he went in the closet for some reason, then died from smoke inhalation. State police told her they believe Kerns became trapped when the thick black smoke filled the home due to an electrical fire. 

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