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Woman remembers best friend killed in Petersburg fire: ‘I love her so much’

PETERSBURG, Va. – A woman has died after the injuries she suffered in a fire at a Petersburg assisted living facility for seniors on Monday night.

Fire officials said they received a call just before 9:00 p.m. for smoke inside the Lafayette House. Petersburg firefighters rushed to the building to find heavy smoke coming from a sixth floor apartment.

Two people were transported to Southside Regional Medical Center for injuries. Friends confirm one victim succumbed to those injuries

Tenant Beverly Bartholomew confirms that her best friend 58-year-old Brenda Bryant died from her injuries.

Beverly Bartholomew

"She was a very, very, very sweet woman.  She loved everybody there.  She loved people and she was happy," said Bartholomew.

​She said she saw Bryant’s boyfriend outside while everyone waited to go back in the building.

"I said where's Brenda? He said, ‘Brenda passed away.  She died.’ That's when I started crying. I said, no.  She didn't. No, she didn't," said Bryant.

Bartholomew never thought it would be her last time seeing Bryant alive.

"I am so sorry, I wish it never happened.  She's a very, very, beautiful woman.  And I miss her and I love her so much," said Bartholomew.

The second person found inside the apartment suffered injuries described as minor.

Josephine Rhodes is among 14 people displaced from the Lafayette House on South Sycamore Street.

"I looked and I said it was fire, fire," said Rhodes.

Rhodes is living at the Days Inn on South Crater road for the moment, after an evacuation from her senior apartment complex.

"I thought it was somebody cooking in there,” said Rhodes. "When I came out I could smell the smoke."

She has been living at the Section 8 assisted living facility for seniors and the disabled for six years.

Fire officials say a mattress caught on fire due to someone smoking in bed.

The Red Cross is helping assist 14 tenants who were displaced after the apartment fire.

There is no word on when they'll be allowed to go back to their apartments.