Karns family in need after fire destroys home

The Karns family home stands after the fire destroyed everything inside. Credit: Jessica Karns

Thursday, April 7 was just like any other day for the Karns family—until it wasn’t. While Philip Karns was at work, his wife Jessica was at an appointment and their children were at school, flames engulfed their home in Berwick.

“My phone died the morning of the fire so I had no warning of it happening. I found out when I turned the corner to go home and they were in front of my house,” said Jessica Karns, a Bloomsburg University student and a veteran. “The first words out of my mouth [weren’t] about the house, it was about my dogs. They meant the world to me.”

Inside the Karns family home after the fire. Credit: Jessica Karns

The fire resulted in a total loss for the Karns family. They lost everything.

Karns Family Lost Everything in Fire GoFundMe

“The fire was devastating to me. It was my childhood home,” Jessica Karns said. “My dad is gone and my mom moved away those memories can’t be made over.”

There were also a lot of hand-built items in the house, according to Jessica, that are now destroyed.

The family’s pets, which included four dogs and three cats, perished in the fire. Nobody else was home when it happened.

“They were family,” said Jessica, of her pets.

Jessica said her four-year-old Golden Retriever, named Duke, was her service animal. She recalled, “Duke came on campus with me on my bad days.”

Rebuilding their lives after the fire

The Karns family has been living in hotels since the fire over two weeks ago. First, they stayed in Buckhorn, but after two weeks, booking availability caused them to have to relocate to a hotel in Hazelton.

That means a lot of commuting.

“My husband is running my son to and from school in Berwick and then back and forth to his job in Wilkes-Barre,” said Jessica.

They are mainly eating out due to their living situation.

The scene of the fire is still under investigation. According to Jessica, “[investigators] believe that the dogs turned the burner on” in the kitchen, but what caused it to spark is unknown. So, for now, the family will be living in a hotel until they can rebuild and move back to a permanent home.

Philip Karns started a GoFundMe to raise funds for necessities, including food and travel and medical expenses.


The fundraising campaign has raised a little over 25 percent of its $5,000 goal so far. The family says every little bit counts.

After everything that happened, Philip Karns said, “We are trying our hardest to get our lives back to some form of normalcy.”

What remains in the kitchen area after a fire burns through the Karns family home on April 7. Credit: Jessica Karns
Another view of the damage in the Karns family home. Credit: Jessica Karns