HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Generations of memories burned down in a fire over the weekend, leaving one family member dead and five others without a home.
On Saturday, Shevonda Guilford got a call saying that her grandfather’s home had gone up in flames and that her uncle was found dead inside.
On the night of Friday, Nov. 3, Hanover fire crews responded to a report of a house fire on the 10000 block of Ashcake Road, just outside of Ashland. One person, 63-year-old Roy Mattox, Jr., was found dead inside the home.
Guilford said her grandfather, Roy Sr., tried to lift Roy Jr. and carry him out of the house, but was unable to due to his age and condition.
“My grandfather was sleeping on the couch, and he woke up and he saw flames and smoke,” said Guilford. “He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t see anything. It was already a pretty bad fire.”
Roy Jr., also known as Little Roy, had Down syndrome and was close with the entire family.
“He’s very funny. He is, you know, a very caring person. And we all grew up very close with him,” said Guilford. “So, I myself would come here every summer. All of my cousins have come every summer. So we all were kind of raised up with my uncle.”
The home has been in the family for more than 30 years, having been passed down to Guilford’s grandmother, Gladys, who died in 2019 from cancer.
The fire destroyed most of the family’s photos, as well as keepsakes left behind by Gladys and all of Roy Sr.’s belongings, but Guilford said the family will always carry their memories from the home.
“We have all of our memories in our head. Those are not going to go anywhere. We have our memories. We have each other. We’ll always have each other,” said Guilford. “And it’s times like this when we do come together as much as possible, and we’ll continue to do that.”