Denver community mourns fallen firefighter

Published: Jun. 17, 2016 at 3:51 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 18, 2016 at 12:29 AM EDT
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LINCOLN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Commitment is a word many say best describe fallen firefighter Josh Warren.

He was committed to firefighting. He worked part-time for three different fire departments.

He was committed to his church. His church's pastor tells WBTV he was more than a regular member.

He died Thursday morning while on duty as an Alexis firefighter. He was exercising shortly after having returned from responding to an emergency call, preparing himself so he can better protect his communities.

Steve Owenby is the pastor at Warren's church, the Westport Baptist Church in Denver. He's still in disbelief Warren is no longer here.

"Just couldn't believe it," Owenby said, remembering the moment Warren's family called him to tell him the news.

Even complete strangers are heartbroken to hear another firefighter died in the line of duty.

"They had to respond to the neighbor's house a few years back for a chimney fire. You're always glad they're there. You take them for granted," said Drusilla Kotlinski, who lives close to the Alexis Volunteer Fire Department.

Warren is the third firefighter to die in the line of duty since the beginning of May, joined by Richard Sheltra of Pineville, and Bradley Long of Sherrills Ford and Newton.

Warren worked part-time at Alexis, East Lincoln and Lucia-Riverbend.

"He was able to serve people. That was the real passion in that," Owenby said.

He wasn't only committed to his firefighting duties. Owenby says he was one of the most devoted members in his church.

"He was committed to his church. It wasn't just a casual type of thing. He knew it was important. He loved Jesus Christ."

Owenby says Warren quickly became a dear friend.

Officials are asking everyone in the community to help Warren's family. Families of emergency workers who die in the line of duty get money and benefits from the state, but sometimes that doesn't get to them until years down the road.

"They're going to have needs that extend beyond today and beyond next year and the following year. We need to make sure we take care of them as much as possible," said Ryan Cole of the North Carolina Association of Fire Chiefs. He's leading fundraising efforts.

RELATED: Firefighter collapses during workout, later dies at hospital

To donate to Warren's family, you can go to any State Employees' Credit Union, and leave a deposit for the Josh Warren Memorial Fund.

A procession was scheduled for Monday, June 20 at 4 p.m. followed by visitation services from 6 until 9 p.m. at the Westport Baptist Church.

The funeral and internment is scheduled for Tuesday, June 21 at 11 a.m.

CLICK HERE for full details on Warren's services.

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