Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fire destroys Largo resident's new life; one dog dies, other missing

LARGO — Just two months after Shelley Duke piled her beloved pets and all her belongings into a U-Haul and drove cross-country from Washington, she said life was looking up.

She had decorated her 217 Lark Drive SW mobile home with the American flag flapping in the front yard. She had made friends outside of her brother and sister-in-law, who live nearby. A month ago, she had started a new job and was happy.

Duke was at the coin laundry Sunday afternoon preparing for another week when the phone rang. It was one of her new friends, a neighbor, saying Duke's home was on fire, burning so ferociously that officials said it drew 29 firefighters and 13 fire trucks from two departments.

In the end, Duke sobbed, just the flag and above-ground pool were recognizable — no vestiges of the deck that had surrounded it in sight.

Duke's pooches — Abby, a nearly 7-year-old Shih Tzu, and Lucky, a 3-year-old toy Yorkshire terrier rescue — likely died, she said. Fire Rescue officials confirmed finding one dog dead but not the other late Sunday.

"I don't know what I'm going to do. And I don't care," she said, dazed as friends and family hugged her. "My whole life just went up in flames but … I don't care about the material things. I just wanted my babies to be alive."

Two hours after authorities received a call about smoke rising from the area, Largo Fire Rescue Division Chief Joseph Pennino said officials were evaluating how to safely navigate the crumbling home and carport before they entered to investigate the cause.

He said the initial call came from an adjacent mobile home park, so some fire crews responded there first. But once they arrived, the fire was extinguished within 6 minutes.

The Seminole Fire Department assisted.

"There were flames 20 feet in the air," Pennino said. "The mobile home is a complete loss."

Duke's relatives said they would take her in.

Contact Keyonna Summers at or (727) 445-4153. Follow @KeyonnaSummers.

Fire destroys Largo resident's new life; one dog dies, other missing 08/10/14 [Last modified: Sunday, August 10, 2014 8:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Comedian and activist Dick Gregory dies at 84


    The comedian Dick Gregory rose to national prominence in the early 1960s as a black satirist whose audacious style of humor was biting, subversive and topical, mostly centered on current events, politics and above all, racial tensions. His trademark was the searing punchline.

    Dick Gregory, a comedian, activist and author, died Saturday. [Tribune News Service, 2011]
  2. Winter Haven police investigating armed robbery at Dollar General


    WINTER HAVEN — Police are investigating an armed robbery Friday night of a Dollar General store on W Lake Ruby Drive.

  3. Rowdies settle for draw at home


    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  4. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  5. 'Free speech rally' cut short after massive counterprotest


    BOSTON — Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned "free speech rally" a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

    Thousands of people march against a “free speech rally” planned Saturday in Boston. About 40,000 people were in attendance.