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Berks County man badly burned in fire remains in critical condition

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Sep 06 2013 05:08:37 AM CDT
Updated On: Sep 07 2013 02:06:28 PM CDT

Man burned in raging fire in Earl

EARL TWP., Pa. -

A Berks County man who was badly burned in a fire that destroyed his home early Friday morning remains in critical condition.

Police say Andre Vernet, 47, is being treated at Lehigh Valley Hospital.

The fire was reported at 2:10 a.m. at 45 Linden Lane, just off Route 562, in Earl Township, near Boyertown.

"We had embers going over our roof, you know? It was really something to be that close to a raging inferno. It's really scary," said Erin McElroy, who lives across the street.

McElroy felt helpless on her front porch as she watched the bungalow, which was fully involved in flames. It was raging so big and so hot, it melted everything around it.

According to fire officials, Vernet, who rents the bungalow, suffered burns to roughly 30 percent of his body.

"We were screaming for our neighbor because we didn't know if he was home or not. It was horrific," said McElroy. "It all just happened so fast. I never seen fire that close up before, you know. It was really something."

"The lady that lives next door smelled the smoke and looked out and saw him running out and he was on fire," said Daniel Hutt, who lives a few houses down.

When crews arrived, the man was nowhere to be found until an ambulance responded to an area of Douglass Township, which is some four miles away. The man ended up on Farmington Avenue, and then was flown to the burn unit at Lehigh Valley Hospital near Allentown, said officials.

Vernet's two cats made it out alive, but the tiny bungalow was nothing more than a pile of rubble.

A Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal was on scene Friday working to determine an exact cause. Investigators said the fire is undetermined, but it appears to be accidental.