Chanda Rubin's home burns in storm

12/30/2010 - Tennis

LAFAYETTE, La. -- Tennis player Chanda Rubin's house burned during an intense thunderstorm, and lightning was a likely cause, Lafayette fire officials said Thursday.

The 1990s tennis star was the only person in the house. She got out safely after her alarms alerted her to the fire shortly after 9 p.m. local time Wednesday, fire department spokesman Alton Trahan said Thursday.

"The whole roof and the attic and portions of the second story are completely gone," Trahan said. "The first story is OK. There's a lot of water damage on the first floor, obviously."

He said lightning was particularly intense in Rubin's neighborhood and may have touched off the fire, which started in the attic.

"It's pretty much totaled," Trahan said. "The first floor is probably the only portion of the home she'll be able to salvage some of the contents."

Numerous calls from the alarm system, neighbors and Rubin came in within a few minutes of each other, starting at 9:07 p.m., Assistant Chief Jerry Delhomme said.

Fire Chief Robert Benoit said the first call was from Rubin, who said she was awakened by noises.

"There was heavy rain and lightning and thunder," Benoit said. "She walked outside and could see a little smoke at the top of her roof.

"When we got there, fire was through the roof. It took about 4½ hours to get the fire completely out."

Rubin, 34, won seven singles titles on the WTA Tour and reached as high as No. 6 in the rankings in 1996. Her deepest run at a Grand Slam came that year, when she reached the semifinals at the Australian Open.

She was unseeded but won the Eastbourne International tournament in 2002. Her last singles titles were in Eastbourne and Madrid in 2003, according to the WTA website.

It said she withdrew from a half-dozen tournaments this year because of a variety of injuries. She won only one match in the seven events in which she did appear.