PINEVILLE, NC (WBTV) - Dozens of messages and tributes are being left at the Pineville Volunteer Fire Department after a 20-year-old volunteer firefighter died fighting a blaze over the weekend.
Inside the firehouse, a floral tribute has been set up to honor the life of Richard Sheltra. Sheltra died Saturday night during a three-alarm fire a Pineville strip mall.
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.
At one point, Sheltra reportedly became lost in the building but was on his way out, according to an audio tape of communications at the scene.
Sheltra was found "in distress" before he was brought out of the building. He was taken to Carolinas Medical Center, but did not survive.
"Your life of service was an inspiration to us all," one note left at the firehouse says. "We mourn with your family and the community over the loss of you - which will be felt by so many."
Another message quotes the book of Isaiah, "I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you."
Stickers were being handed out at the firehouse to people who stopped by. It showed a fire badge with an American flag background. Across the front, a red banner with RFB-KTF. It means Remember Fallen Brothers - Keep The Faith.
WBTV has learned that Sheltra was enrolled in the EMT program at Central Piedmont Community College and the school has brought in grief counselors.
Sheltra graduated from South Mecklenburg High School a few years ago.
The school's principal, Dr. Maureen Furr, released a statement on his death.
"Those at South Meck who knew Richard remembered him fondly as a wonderful young man," Furr wrote. "He will certainly be missed."
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Sheltra's family. You can find it by clicking here.