The former ABC11 photographer was hurt at his Fayetteville home Monday when he knocked over a fiberglass oxygen tank in his garage and it exploded causing a flash fire.
Wife Cindy Burnham - who's also a photographer - was also in the home at the time.
"So I was just getting ready to brush my teeth and then all of a sudden, poof! And it was like a slow motion kind of thing. And being a still photographer, it's like, I feel like I could see all the frames going click, click, click, click," said Burnham.
"I got the fire extinguisher. But before I got it, I could look into the garage and I see this silhouette of him on fire," she continued.
Allen, an avid scuba diver who dives as part of his work, now has months of recovery ahead of him. He's at the UNC Jaycee burn center with severe second-degree burns. He also lost his left hand in the blast.
"It's really tough, but I know he's strong. I know how strong he is," said Burnham.
She says neither she nor her husband panicked that day - in part because of their dive training.
"You train, you train for case of emergency because you can't afford to panic," she explained.
Burnham says Rick can't speak yet, but has already laughed and is ready to get working again once he figures out how.
"He's got his right hand. He doesn't have the left one, but he's got the right one. So we just have to figure out how to make that work and I've already told him that. I told him there's guys out there making prototypes right now," said Burnham.
Burnham has created a website for people to check on Rick's condition and wish him well. It's www.getwellrick.com.