05/13/07 — Dryer listed as cause of fatal fire

View Archive

Dryer listed as cause of fatal fire

By Lee Williams
Published in News on May 13, 2007 2:01 AM

A clothes dryer has been ruled the cause of a massive house fire on Memorial Church Road in Fremont Monday that killed an elderly woman and her granddaughter.

Wayne County Sheriff's Detective Sgt. Shawn Harris and State Bureau of Investigation Arson Investigator John Gay examined the charred clothes dryer for clues and determined it was the culprit in the blaze that killed Mayola Waddell, 77, and her granddaughter, Shannon Minshew, 36, Wayne County Sheriff's Capt. Tom Effler said.

However, Effler said he was unsure what exactly caused the clothes dryer to ignite.

Ms. Minshew placed a call to 911 and told dispatchers the clothes dryer had caught fire at about 1 p.m.

Firefighters from the Nahunta, Little River, Polly Watson, Fremont and Pikeville volunteer fire departments arrived and found the home at 1884 Memorial Church Road engulfed in flames.

Firefighters rushed in quickly to save the victims, Nahunta Volunteer Fire Chief Jay Howell said.

However, tragedy had already struck.

Ms. Minshew died at the scene, but Ms. Waddell died later at Wayne Memorial Hospital officials said. The fire caused about $100,000 in damage and the home was declared a total loss.

Ms. Minshew, a mother of two teens, Tyler and Brandy, lived in the home and was her grandmother's caregiver. Ms. Waddell was handicapped and used a wheelchair to get around, Ms. Minshew's stepfather, Ernie Chase said.

Ms. Minshew also was studying to be a nurse, Chase said.

Family members and sheriff's officials hailed Ms. Minshew as a hero for trying to save her grandmother's life before she died.

Ms. Minshew's body was found lying on top of her grandmother's.

"It appears she was trying to help her grandmother get out and she was overcome by smoke and collapsed," Effler said.