Man found dead in burned Pittsylvania County home identified by family member

Wesley Clay, 57, is believed to have died from smoke inhalation

GRETNA, Va. – A man found dead in his burned-out Pittsylvania County home is being remembered for his kindness as the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Kimberly Kornegay, a waitress at Fancy Frog, which is less than a quarter-mile from the house, said the man, whom a family member has identified as 57-year-old Wesley Clay, who was a frequent customer, just ate there Tuesday and will be dearly missed.

"He would come by here just about every morning and sit out here and smoke cigarettes, or he would be going to the store when it’s really hot. My manager always told us to give him something cold to drink," said Kornegay.

Clay’s mobile home on Blue Ridge Drive in Gretna is now just a charred shell.

According to radio communication between first responders at the scene Wednesday night, Clay was found inside the home near the front door.

“The Gretna Fire Department was first on scene and advised that there was a single-wide mobile home fully involved. They made a quick exterior attack and then quickly moved interior,” said Pittsylvania County Deputy Public Safety Coordinator Mike Lee.

Lee said the fire started around the furnace in the kitchen.

“We don’t believe it was the furnace because we don’t believe there was any gas to the residence, and it was a gas heater. We are really puzzled right now,” said Lee. 

One neighbor told 10 News that it sounded like an explosion.

Lee said that the reported explosion may have been an aerosol can or a window busting and not actually the house itself exploding.

“We did take some samples of the burned floor and things like that to see if there are any accelerants, meaning gas or anything of that sort that would help it burn more than normal,” said Lee.

The medical examiner in Roanoke will do an autopsy to determine a cause of death, but Lee suspects the death may have been due to smoke inhalation.