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“I saw black smoke everywhere”: Roanoke mother loses everything in house fire

Puppy died in fire, home deemed structurally unstable by city

ROANOKE, Va. – Krystal Brownell said she’s blessed to be alive after a fire tore through her southeast Roanoke home Tuesday morning, but that’s nearly all she has left.

“I lost everything,” Brownell said. “My kids’ stuff from when they were little. Their pictures. My deceased grandmother’s belongings. Everything.”

Brownell went to the hospital for minor injuries after her home on 10 1/2 Street SE was consumed by flames, but said she could have died if not for her pets.

“My dog woke me up,” Brownell said. “I saw black smoke everywhere.”

Sadly, a puppy died within the fire.

Brownell’s friend Laura Davis picked her up from the hospital the night of the fire. Davis created a GoFundMe for the family and is allowing them to live with her until they find another home of their own.

“I called my boss and said, ‘Look, I’ve got to go to the hospital,’” Davis said. “Now is the time for giving and looking into your hearts for a place to give.”

Brownell was the only one home when the fire started, as her preteen children were out Christmas shopping with their aunt at the time. She said it was hard to break the news of the fire to the kids, but assured them there are brighter days ahead.

“Santa is still going to come see them,” Brownell said. “I told them, ‘Just keep being good and everything is going to be okay.’”