Lightning strike destroys home, woman killed in fire

Shelby County Fire Department sealA Lakeland woman recovering from knee surgery died Friday in a home fire apparently caused by lightning.

Brent Perkins, a spokesman for the Shelby County Fire Department, said a very large stroke of lightning hit the Gainsborough Drive home of Nancy Allen, and flames were widespread by the time neighbors began to call for help at 2:08 p.m. The first engine was on site within six minutes. Five engine companies of three fire departments (Memphis, Shelby County and Arlington) worked together to battle the blaze.

Almost two dozen firefighters tried to save the home and any inhabitants, and Perkins estimated that it took about 25 minutes to get the fire under control.

Allen was home alone and almost managed to escape. Firefighters found her body near the front door.

She was the wife of Bobby Allen and the mother of four grown children, Cecilia, James, Peter and Victoria. Both she and her husband worked at TV news channel WREG.

The home was a complete loss. Perkins said exposure to the fire also caused minor damage to houses immediately south of the Allens’ home.

A fund has been set up to assist her family. See details at