Human remains were found in the rubble of a Hermantown home that was destroyed by fire early Thursday.

Authorities said Thursday night that the remains likely are those of the 87-year-old woman who lived in the home on the 5300 block of West Arrowhead Road, but DNA testing was needed for positive identification.

Hermantown police reported that authorities were called to the fire at the home near Hermantown High School at 3:17 a.m. The home was engulfed in flames when officers arrived.

There were two vehicles in the detached garage, leading authorities to believe the home had been occupied at the time of the fire.

After the flames were extinguished, crews “began the arduous task of searching the remains of the structure, immediate surrounding outbuildings and wooded area” for the resident of the home, the Hermantown Police Department reported.

Hermantown and Duluth public works crews assisted in removing debris that had collected in the basement of the home, and a St. Louis County Rescue Squad K-9 trained in locating human remains was brought to the scene. After a lengthy search, “evidence of human remains was located,” police said, and a medical examiner confirmed that finding.

The Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s Office was on the scene Thursday; the cause of the fire had not yet been determined and remained under investigation.

In addition to the Hermantown police and fire departments, other agencies that helped at the scene included the Proctor, Canosia and Air National Guard fire departments; the Proctor Police Department; and the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office.

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