PINEVILLE, NC (WBTV) - Funeral arrangements have been made for Pineville volunteer firefighter after he died over the weekend in a three-alarm business fire.
Richard Sheltra, 20, responded to a fire at the Countryside shopping center around 9 p.m. Saturday night along the 8500-block of Pineville-Matthews Road. The Edwin Watts golf store, which had closed at 6 p.m. Saturday, was ablaze.
Fire officials said Sheltra made a "mayday" call, while inside the business, within 30 minutes of arriving at the scene.
Over the radio, you can hear firefighters at the scene say Sheltra got lost in the building. He was ultimately 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. Sources tell WBTV that Richard Sheltra's equipment will be checked to make sure all was well.
The North Carolina Department of Labor says Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigators are looking into Sheltra's death.
Investigators say a lightning strike started the fire.
According to the Pineville Volunteer Fire Department, a public memorial service will be held at the Forest Hill Church (South Park campus), located on Park Road, in Charlotte on Saturday, May 7. The service will start at noon.
The family invites civilians, friends, family and firefighters to join them in celebrating the life of Richard Sheltra.
During the service; a small procession of local fire apparatus will participate.
A detailed processional route is expected to be released in the coming days. Emergency services agencies will be permitted to stand along the processional route, but only local fire apparatus will participate in the actual procession.
Sheltra served the Pineville Volunteer Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter for three years. He is survived by his mother, father and sister.
A family friend says the young volunteer firefighter first answered the calling years ago as a child.
"When he was yay tall, I knew then this kid wanted to be a fireman," said Jim Dedmon, who started his firefighting career as a volunteer with Carmel Fire Department.
Dedmon said that's when he knew that young Richard was on a mission.
"His dad was Chief of Carmel Volunteer Fire Dept at one point. His mom was very involved in the fire department as well. I think it was one of those things where experience taught him that this was a calling he felt he wanted to follow," Dedmon said. "Just his attitude, just his excitement and the spark in his eye that he saw when he saw a fire truck and he saw us getting our gear, getting on a truck to go on a call. You knew this kid had it in his blood already."