Follow The Republic:
NORTH VERNON — The cause of a Friday morning house fire that claimed the life of a social service professional and former Jennings County teacher was accidental, the North Vernon Police Department said Wednesday.
However, both North Vernon Det. Ivory Sandefur and an Indiana State Fire Marshal spokesman said the investigation into the blaze that killed Tijera Ann “T.J.” Waggoner, 59, may have to be closed without determining an exact cause.
“Many times in these cases, the fire is so devastating that we cannot conclusively determine an exact point of origin,” said ISFM spokesperson John Erikson.
However, Sandefur expressed his satisfaction in finding that the fire on Persimmon Drive was an accident.
Both family spokeswoman Mary Custer and the victim’s minister, the Rev. Bob Weeks, said they had been informed by local investigators the cause was likely an electrical short in the wiring under a hot tub located off the master bedroom.
An autopsy conducted Sunday confirmed that Waggoner, whose body was found in the garage of her single-story brick home, died of smoke
While Jennings County Deputy Coroner James Fletcher believes Waggoner succumbed to smoke while trying to escape, Fletcher also said paramedics told him that she may have first tried to find her dog, which also perished in the fire.
Stephanie Shrader, who worked with Waggoner at the Head Start office in Columbus, said the victim was so attached to the Welsh Corgi that she included a photograph of the canine with family pictures in her office.
Waggoner also held administrative positions with Head Start programs in both Brown and Decatur counties.
Both Custer and Weeks said Waggoner suffered from a progressive hereditary disease that could have caused both disorientation and excessive sleepiness when the fire erupted.
“She hibernated an awful lot,” Weeks said. “She would go to work and come back and be exhausted. Knowing the challenges she faced, it’s amazing that she had the impact she did in helping others.”
That impact was illustrated at the First Baptist Church of North Vernon, where hundreds stood in line Wednesday afternoon to offer their support and condolences.
Custer said both she and the family were extremely gratified to see how many lives her longtime friend had touched.
“T.J. was kind, considerate and always willing to sacrifice her time to make someone’s life better,” Weeks said. “She was just incredible.”
She was the wife of North Vernon attorney Charles Waggoner, and mother to four grown children.
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!
Note: All comments left on our sites are first reviewed by an automated comment moderation system. Your comment may take up to 5 minutes to appear. If for any reason your comment can not be approved you will receive an email from this system with a detailed explanation.
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.