Pineville firefighter 'got lost' inside burning building, audio suggests

Pineville firefighter 'got lost' inside burning building, audio suggests

PINEVILLE, NC (WBTV) - Firefighters who were working to put out a fire at a Pineville golf store Saturday night at one point reported that Richard Sheltra was lost in the building but was on his way out, The Charlotte Observer is reporting, citing an audio tape of communications at the scene.

The tape, which has several unintelligible exchanges between firefighters appears to capture the following: "Sheltra did not make it out of the building yet. He's coming now. He got lost," one audio transmission from the scene said. "Make sure he gets out of the building."

About 5 minutes later comes the following exchange: "Unknown what's wrong with him, we're dragging him out now." Another voice says: " OK. 10-4. You have the downed firefighter, is that correct?"

"Yes sir. That's correct."

According to the Observer, official details surrounding the firefighter's death have not been confirmed yet. The audio was posted on a website called:

Sheltra, a 20-year-old with the Pineville Volunteer Fire Department for the past three years, ultimately was found "in distress" before he was brought out of the building, according to a report from the Department. He was taken to Carolinas Medical Center but did not survive. The nature of his injuries has not been disclosed.

RELATED: 20-year-old Pineville firefighter killed in line of duty

The fire was reported shortly after 9 p.m. at Countryside shopping center, located at 8500 Pineville-Matthews Road. The Edwin Watts golf store, which had closed at 6 p.m. Saturday, was ablaze.

Units from the Pineville and Charlotte fire departments responded. The fire became a three-alarm blaze as it grew – increasing alarms indicate increasing severity. An investigation into the cause of the fire is continuing, led by the Mecklenburg County Fire Marshal's office.

Two other Pineville firefighters were injured, but their injuries were not life-threatening, Suthard said. One was treated at the scene. A second was taken to Carolinas Medical Center and later released.

Richard Sheltra, 20, worked with the Pineville Volunteer Fire Department for three years. He was named Rookie of the Year in January, athough no longer new to the department, and was also recognized for being the member of the department who received the most hours of training last year.

"This is a very sad day for our department, in particular the Pineville community, as we mourn the passing of a friend, a brother and very dedicated volunteer," Chief Michael Gerin said in a statement Sunday.

A representative reached at the Sheltra home declined to comment Sunday and said the family was asking for privacy to grieve.

Sheltra's death appears to be the first loss of a firefighter to a fire in Mecklenburg County since 2002. That's when Josh Earley, a 23-year-old from Midland, died of injuries sustained while fighting a house fire in eastern Mecklenburg with the Harrisburg Volunteer Fire Department. He was serving with that department on an off day from his full-time job at Station 27 with the Charlotte Fire Department.