Heroic fiancé, friend recall last moments of woman killed in Petersburg apartment fire

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — A man is being remembered for a heroic act after trying to save his fiancée’s life during a fire. It happened Monday night at an assisted living facility in Petersburg.

The woman’s daughter said he would have done anything for her — so rushing into her burning room at Lafayette House in Petersburg was no surprise. But now that she’s gone, part of him is, too.

“He’s been right there by my mother’s side,” Akeiba Stokes said of Lorenzo Clay, who risked his life for the love of his life after her apartment caught fire. “She was in her bed engulfed in flames.”

(Akeiba Stokes, left, and Lorenzo Clay, right.)

Clay was too shaken up to go on camera with 8News, but Stokes says his actions were nothing short of heroic.

“He tried to rescue my mother out of the flames and he wounded himself trying to help my mother,” she said. “The fire burned his ears and the smoke pushed him back but he couldn’t get her out the bed.”

Sadly, 58-year-old Brenda Bryant didn’t make it.

As her room filled with smoke, she was on the phone with a friend. It’s a call Peter Breazell said he will never forget.

“Not in a million years,” he said.

He told 8News he was talking with Bryant as her apartment went up in flames.

“She said, ‘the bed’s on fire! The bed is on fire! I’m on fire!” Breazell recalled.

That’s the last he heard from his friend.

Breazell and Stokes still aren’t sure what started the fire, but Stokes told 8News her mom used a walker and had knee surgery.

She’ll remember her as outgoing, funny, outspoken and strong.

“Say I love you every day. Don’t take them for granted. Tomorrow is never promised to no one,” Stokes said.

As her loved ones grieve, others stopped by the Lafayette House Tuesday to offer their condolences and support for the dozens of residents who have been displaced.

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