Cause of fatal Lake Station fire still undetermined

2012-06-02T20:30:00Z 2012-06-04T00:17:13Z Cause of fatal Lake Station fire still undeterminedBy Deborah Laverty, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223

LAKE STATION | A fire that killed a 29-year-old mother nearly six months ago continues to fuel questions about how it was started and why, city officials said.

"As of right now, there's lots of rumors. We're following up on them. ... It's not a done case," Lake Station police Detective Gerald Baldoza said recently.

Baldoza declined to state the nature of the rumors.

He said the most crucial part of the case is determining what caused the Dec. 10 fire that swept through the home of Jennifer N. Teel.

"We need to come up with some type of conclusion, so her family can have closure," Baldoza said.

Teel died in her home at 2260 Wayne St. The cause of death was listed as smoke inhalation and severe burns, according to officials.

Firefighters rescued Teel's two boys, Andrew Collins, 3, and Landon Teel, 1, from the blaze. They initially were transported to St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart, then airlifted to the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital in Chicago.

The two boys, who were released from the hospital late last year, remain in the custody of their grandmother, Maria Jones, of Portage, police said.

Baldoza said the cause of the fire is currently being investigated by Fire Findings, of Benton Harbor, Mich.

The company came to Lake Station and collected evidence at the fire, including electrical outlets and lamps, Baldoza said.

Officials are hoping to have some answers after they receive information back from Fire Findings and toxicology results from the coroner.

"We're waiting to get everything back in before we can go forward," Baldoza said.

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