Area woodcarver fights for life

Rob Lucas severely burned in Oct. 25 fire; dog dies days later
November 2, 2019

Rob Lucas, a former bouncer at the Starboard, construction worker and woodcarver, remains in critical condition following a fire Oct. 25 at his home near Love Creek.

Lucas, 73, was at his home in Woods Edge off Route 24 when an explosion critically burned him and his Chesapeake retriever, Smoke. Smoke had been at Savannah Animal Hospital where he was treated for burns to his face, paws and underbelly. On Nov. 1, the 10-year-old dog died of cardiac arrest, said Toni Oddo, Lucas's partner for the past 15 years. She said she is trying to stay positive, knowing Smoke is at peace. 

Lucas and Smoke had been inseparable for a decade, Oddo said, and on the day of the fire, Lucas could only think of his dog as he exited his burning home. 

“His first thought was his dog,” she said. “A neighbor told me he was holding his head and asking where was Smoke.”

Lucas is now in a medically induced coma and a breathing tube was recently removed, Oddo said. Doctors are preparing Lucas for a skin graft, she said.

“He still has fight in him,” she said.

Oddo said she has been traveling to Crozer Burn Center in Pennsylvania just about every day since the accident. 

Fire marshals said the fire caused $25,000 in damage to the home; the origin and cause of the fire are still under investigation. Oddo said Lucas lost everything in the fire.

Savannah Animal Hospital officials declined to comment about Smoke or the cost of his medical treatment.

Oddo said there are three fundraisers to help pay medical expenses for Lucas and Smoke:

• Sasha's Pets/Animal Fundraiser Vet Bill for Smoke on Facebook has raised about $2,200 of its $3,500 goal

• Mr. Rob Lucas's Personal Emergency Fundraiser on Facebook has raised about $2,600 of its $100,000 goal. Go to

• A Gofundme account, Medical expenses for Rob Lucas. Lewes DE, has raised $3,600 of its $100,000 goal. Go to

Lucas – also known as Mongo – is well-known in the Cape Region, at one time working as a bouncer at the Starboard in Dewey Beach before moving into the construction business. After a fall from a 20-foot ladder in 1985 left him on disability, Lucas put his artistic ability to work. In a 2009 Cape Gazette article, Lucas said he picked up woodcarving – a skill he enjoyed in high school, and which won him an art contest for his carving of an Easter Island monument.

Working for various homeowners in the area, Lucas carved a larger-than-life replica of Babe Ruth for a Kings Creek Country Club resident, and he carved a 12-foot replica of the Bethany Beach totem police for a home in the Woods on Herring Creek.

But his biggest job was a 31-foot walnut staircase railing that he carved into venomous snakes for a two-story home on Park Avenue in Lewes. The staircase, reminiscent of the 1977 movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” took him three years to complete.

“I think everybody has got some form of art in them,” he said in the 2009 article. “My mission is to carve.”

Oddo said she is staying positive as she watches her dear friend fight for his life.

“He's a trouper,” she said.


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