Fatal fire at Chatham mayor's home emotional for community

Mayor's wife killed, mayor injured

By Colter Anstaett - Southside Bureau Reporter

CHATHAM, Va. - We are seeing dramatic new images from moments after a fire broke out in the home of Chatham Mayor Roy Byrd Jr. and his wife, Lois.

A photo from the Chatham Star-Tribune shows Mayor Byrd on a stretcher being loaded into an ambulance Thursday outside the couple's Davis Road home.

On Friday, yellow caution tape surrounded the home while family members cleaned up what they could.

Family members declined to be interviewed.

Pittsylvania County Fire and Rescue Association President Dean Fowler said this was a difficult situation for many of the firefighters who responded.

"The guys knew the family. They have been a part of the community there for years and everybody basically knew them," Fowler said.

A photo taken by the Danville Register & Bee shows firefighters gathering for an impromptu prayer vigil outside the home Thursday.

"A lot of the guys were standing around and somebody made the comment, said 'I think we ought to say a word of prayer and remember the family and as well as the guys and girls that participated in the rescue,'" Fowler recalled. "They lean on each other and that keeps us going."

On Friday, town council members in Chatham expressed thoughts and prayers for the mayor and his family.

Councilman Will Pace gave 10 News the following statement:

"On Thursday, our entire community was devastated and saddened by the news of the sudden and tragic death of Lois Byrd. Lois was one of the sweetest and caring individuals I have ever met. Her passing is a tremendous shock to us all. 

As you know, Mayor Roy Byrd is in the hospital recovering from smoke inhalation. We all wish Roy a speedy and full recovery. Please keep the Byrd family in your prayers during this difficult time. 

In the face of such devastating news we will remain “Chatham Strong” in the coming days and weeks by giving Roy and his family our love and support."

Messages left for each of the other five council members were not returned.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation Friday.

The mayor's son, who was at the home Friday, said he expects his father to be able to come home from the hospital this weekend.

The mayor was taken to UVA Medical Center for treatment Thursday.

His son said he suffered his injuries while trying to get to his wife in the fire.

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