Fatal Albemarle fire could be arson, officials say

Fatal Albemarle fire could be arson, officials say


by TONY BURBECK / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC


Posted on August 5, 2013 at 6:56 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 5 at 7:00 PM

ALBEMARLE, N.C. -- A fire that killed a 39-year-old Albemarle woman could be arson, according to police.

Albemarle Police are investigating it that way to be as thorough as possible, but for now there is no official cause, and no one has been arrested.

Jade Tucker saw smoke and flames coming from the house at 558 Washington Lane around 11:30 Sunday night and called 911.

"I'm yelling, ‘Get out, get out, get out, please get out,’" Tucker said.

Her screams were for Jennifer Allen, who police and family members identified as the victim.  

"It was completely engulfed; like someone threw a flame thrower through it. That's how bad it got in a matter of seconds," Tucker recalled.

Witnesses say it appears the fire started in the kitchen.

They heard Allen screaming for help and trying to kick open a door or window.
"But it was too much, it was too intense," said Tucker.

Witnesses say several neighbors ran to the house and tried to kick in the door or open a window to get Allen out, but the smoke and flames were too much.

Investigators aren't saying if propane tanks on the property exploded during the fire, or if Allen might have been cooking.

"All you heard was boom sounds," said witness Steven Hernandez.

Neighbors say Allen lived in the house for a couple of years, was likable, friendly and frequently said hello.

"She was a lovable person; she didn't deserve to die like this, didn't deserve to lose her life like this," said Cheryl Huntley, Allen's sister.

Huntley said Allen has four sons and would have turned 40 next week. The family was planning her birthday party.

Court records show a Jennifer Allen was due in Stanly County court Monday on possession of stolen goods charges.

The arrest warrant was in the courtroom and unavailable at the time of this writing.

Police say there is no connection between the fire and the court appearance.