Friday house fire in Brodnax claims life of elderly woman


An elderly woman was tragically killed in a six-alarm structure fire that occurred in the 200 block of Main St. in Brodnax on Friday around 1 p.m.
The deceased, Virnell Hart, 84, was inside the home when the fire began and was unable to make it out, due to medical reasons.
Upon responders’ arrival on scene, heavy smoke and fire was observed coming from the home. Firefighters immediately began making multiple attempts to rescue the woman from inside, however to no avail as high winds, reduced visibility, intense heat and multiple explosions from vehicle fuel tanks, oxygen tanks and propane cylinders prevented entry.
“Unfortunately,” said Brodnax Fire Chief Brad Rogers “the fire was too intense for anyone to gain entry.”
In addition to the home being fully engulfed, several vehicles that were parked behind the home also caught on fire and were severely damaged. Firefighters were successful in preventing the large blaze from igniting nearby homes and structures.
Even after the fire was extinguished, Rogers said the heat coming from the home prevented responders from immediately entering the residence.
Over 15,000 galloons of water was used in the fire’s suppression. Roanoke River Service Authority was contacted for the purpose of boosting water pressure in the town, in an effort to help extinguish the large fire.
Six fire companies, including Brodnax Volunteer Fire Department, South Hill Fire Department, Lawrenceville Volunteer Fire Department, Lacrosse Volunteer Fire Department and Buckhorn Volunteer Fire Department responded to extinguish the blaze and were assisted by agencies including Southside Rescue Squad, Brodnax Police Chief and Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office.
South Hill Volunteer Fire Department’s Administrator and Deputy Chief, Michael Vaughan said, “The teamwork and dedication from all agencies was second to none and we are proud of the efforts and send our deepest sympathy to the family who lost a loved one.”
No serious injuries were reported among the responding personnel, just a few cases of heat exhaustion and fatigue that were dealt with on scene by Southside Rescue Squad.
The magnitude of the incident resulted in Main Street being completely shut down and Brodnax Fire Chief, Joe Carey, shared his gratitude to the citizens that assisted in directing traffic away from the scene.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office.