The cause of a fire that resulted in Teresa Monrad’s death 14 days after a fire swept through the Monrad home on Dec. 8, may never be determined.
The fire erupted at 11 p.m. on Nov. 25 on the front screened-in porch of Kenneth and Teresa Monrad’s double-wide mobile home on Reed Street in Woodsboro.
Chris Janson, a deputy state fire marshal, worked closely with Refugio County Chief Deputy Sheldon Wiginton on the investigation.
“We crawled around in the mud collecting evidence by hand,” Wiginton said. “We brought in a dog to check for accelerants and we checked with the National Weather Service. We still don’t have any evidence to say definitively what caused the fire.”
The night was clear and the wind was blowing at 2 miles per hour, which would not carry embers from another source, Wiginton said.
“All the witnesses say the flames were going straight up,” Wiginton said. “When I got there, the flames were still going straight up. The weather was warm and dry and no heaters were being used.”
Although Kenneth is a smoker, the deputy said he had a fail-safe method for putting out cigarettes in a can filled with sand.
“The fire did not start where he smoked on the porch; we did determine that,” Wiginton said.
The couple was asleep when their dogs began to bark and alerted them to the fire.
“Kenneth grabbed the two dogs and went out the back door through the mud room,” Wiginton said. “Teresa was right behind him. When he got outside, he put the dogs over the chain link fence to keep them from running back into the house. For some reason, she didn’t follow him out of the house.”
Kenneth ran back inside the house, according to Wiginton.
“They had a large fire extinguisher in the mud room,” the chief deputy said. “The nearest we can figure is that she took the fire extinguisher and went back to the bedroom to try and extinguish the fire and save their home.”
When Kenneth discovered she did not come out, he went back inside. The home had filled with smoke so Kenneth crawled on the floor, found Teresa in the bedroom and dragged her outside.
She was airlifted to Corpus Christi and then to Brooks Army Medical Center in San Antonio. She died at 1:15 a.m. on Dec. 8 from an infection from burns sustained in the fire.
Kenneth’s injuries were obtained after he went back into the home, Wiginton said.
As of last Tuesday, Kenneth was still undergoing treatment at BAMC in San Antonio.
“Chris Janson and I put in three straight days trying to reach a conclusion,” Wiginton said. “Kenneth was cooperative and helpful.”
Unfortunately, the area on the porch where the fire originated was totally destroyed.
“This will bother me the remainder of my career,” Wiginton said.