HUNTER — State fire investigators ruled Tuesday that the townhouse fire that claimed the life of a local husband and father was accidental.
Jerry Meigs, 29, was pronounced dead at the scene of a fire that broke out Aug. 6 at about 6:44 a.m. in his townhouse on Scribner Hollow Road.
Investigators determined that the fire originated in the kitchen area near the stove, according to the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control.
The cause of Meigs’ death remains one of the fire’s unanswered questions, state police Public Information Officer Steven Nevel said Tuesday.
“The cause is still under investigation,” he said. “It does not appear to be criminal or foul play.”
Meigs was seen at the third floor balcony asking for help from bystanders, Nevel said. He then went back into the condo and was not seen again.
“Meigs re-entered the condo and failed to exit,” Nevel said.
Meigs’ body was found at the front door on the north side of the condo, Nevel added.
Meigs’ father Jerald recalls his son as being a free spirit.
“He was one of those kids that if he had five bucks and you needed six, he would try to get you the six,” Jerald Meigs said. “You couldn’t help but like him. You met him and didn’t forget him.”
Meigs’ sister Michelle Meigs agreed.
“Everyone knew his name wherever he went,” she said.
Meigs had the gift of gab, his wife Kristin said.
“It was a blessing and a curse,” she said. “He could turn a stranger into a good friend within minutes with ease. But I knew when he was out running errands it wasn’t going to take five minutes.”
People from all walks of life attended Meigs’ Celebration of Life at his sister Charlotte’s house, she said.
“There was so much love there,” Charlotte Meigs said. “Only he could bring all those different people together.”
The group spent the night playing music and telling stories about Jerry, Michelle said.
Meigs had a plethora of interests, Jerald Meigs said.
“He loved music. He loved to sing, he loved to write. He was in a couple bands and had a large following on the mountaintop.”
“Everything he wanted to do, he would do it,” she said. “There was nothing holding him back. And everything he would do, he would do it passionately.”
“He loved life and never did anything moderately,” she said. “He wouldn’t eat moderately. He would gorge himself because he loved everything.”
Meigs had a foot in both worlds, Jerald Meigs said.
“He was a Woodstock-type musician but also a professional state employee, getting benefits for his kids.”
Meigs worked in the power plant at Coxsackie Correctional Facility, Jerald Meigs said.
Kristin, and his children, Rowyn, 7, and Elijah, 3 were visiting Kristin’s mother and spending time at the Jersey Shore when the fire broke out, Jerald Meigs said.
“He was really in love with his life and his kids,” Charlotte Meigs said.
Humor was another one of Meigs’ strengths, Kristin said.
“He could whip up stupid dad jokes in an instant,” she said. “He danced very weirdly but it was very cute.”
Red Cross was not immediately notified, Red Cross Public Affairs Team Member Mary Alice Molgard said Tuesday.
Molgard was unsure if the Red Cross’ assistance would be requested now that the family was back in the area, she said.
Tannersville Laundromat is collecting items for Meigs’ family.
“Jerry’s smile was contagious and his humor enjoyed by all,” according to the laundromat’s Facebook page. “He had a huge heart and willingness to help anyone in need. His family needs us right now. His wife and children not only lost their best friend and father, but they lost everything they own.”
In addition to monetary donations, the laundromat is accepting children’s books, toys and clothing sized 5T for boys, 8/10 for girls and L/XL for women.
The Meigs family is working to establish a music festival named “Turtle Jam” in Jerry’s memory, Jerald Meigs said.
“His nickname was turtle,” he said.
Proceeds from the event, which would be held each August, would go to help save sea turtles and protect estuary habitat, Jerald Meigs said.
Meigs has left a lasting impact on the community, Kristin said.
“He was the best and he will be missed,” she said.
State police, the Greene County Sheriff’s Office and New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, Greene County Fire Investigation team and Catskill, Hunter, Tannersville, Haines Falls, Hensonville, Palenville and Centerville Cedar Grove Fire Departments responded to the scene.
Hudson Fire Department sent a truck to Catskill to remain on stand-by while Catskill responded to the mountaintop.