By Frank Andruscavage
HECLA, Pa. — One man died when flames burned through his East Brunswick Township home during the early morning hours Friday.
Kenneth R. Gernert, 76, was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:38 a.m. by Schuylkill County Deputy Coroner Joseph S. Pothering.
The fire began inside his home at 34 Schuylkill Road just before 1 a.m. and quickly spread throughout the structure.
Christian Alexis, New Ringgold fire chief, and state police fire marshal Trooper Michael Yeity of the Troop L headquarters in Reading are investigating the blaze.
Yeity said the fire seemed to start in a sun room of the home in the area of a wood stove and seemed to be accidental in nature. As of Friday, he said the source could have been from eminent heat from the stove or from embers igniting combustibles or wood near the stove.
Firefighters from New Ringgold and surrounding communities battled the blaze that was reported at 12:45 a.m. and remained on scene until the late morning hours making sure the fire was extinguished.
Alexis said that crews were met with heavy fire to the rear of the home when they arrived within minutes after receiving the call.
"There was a lot of fire and it was a stubborn fire," Alexis said, adding that crews struggled to about 5 a.m. until they felt comfortable that the fire was extinguished.
Alexis said Gernert lived alone in the home but another residence to the rear of the property was occupied by three of his relatives.
That home was not damaged, Alexis said.
Two firefighters suffered minor injuries. Alexis said one firefighter fell on the ice outside of the home while the other suffered a minor laceration.
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