Honor Guard to stand with NC firefighter killed in 3-alarm fire

PINEVILLE, N.C. (WBTV) – Firefighter Richard Sheltra’s body has been moved to a funeral home.

Family, friends, fellow firefighters and the community will celebrate the 20-year-old’s life on Saturday at a memorial service.

In the meantime, Sheltra’s flag-draped coffin will have company at the funeral home.

“Tonight somebody will be with him all night until tomorrow,” said Bill Suthard, a spokesperson for the Pineville Volunteer Fire Department. “We have somebody standing with him. Honor Guard standing with him.”

Scene of the fatal fire in Pineville (John Sparks/WBTV)

Friday afternoon, Sheltra’s relatives and firefighters escorted his body from Charlotte to the funeral home in Pineville.

“Basically what we did was we brought our brother home back to Pineville,” Suthard said. “And we wanted to make sure we had him close to us, that he is back here.”

The volunteer firefighter died Saturday night after he and his crew responded to an alarm at strip mall in Pineville. Investigators say lightning sparked a fire in a golf store. Sheltra apparently got lost in the building. Other firefighters were able to find him, but investigators say Sheltra inhaled combustibles in the store and later died at the hospital.

Pineville officials said Gov.Pat McCrory sent a state flag that flew over the State Capitol, a personal letter and a proclamation.

At the Pineville Fire Volunteer Fire Department, Pineville’s Mayor gave the items to the Fire Chief. He will deliver them to the Sheltra family.

“It’s not so much the sacrifice,” said Pineville Mayor Jack Edwards. “It’s the willingness to sacrifice that these guys do every single day for us.”

Friday afternoon, his colleagues brought him back home.

Police blocked off intersections and cleared the way as the procession traveled from Freedom Drive to I-85 to I-77 to I-485 and into Pineville.

“All the Pineville apparatus assigned to the station participated in the procession,” Suthard said. “Our fallen firefighter used every one of those trucks, rode on everyone of those trucks on various types of calls so we thought it was fitting all those trucks participated.”

The fire department estimated it was a 24-mile trip.

“Every police that we passed was saluting us. There was a lot of police officers out there,” Suthard said. “We saw people with their hands on their hearts. We saw people saluting.”

WBTV’s Sky 3 was above as the procession made its way on the highways. Our camera saw some workers from the Incident Management Team {IMAT} paying their respects.

Suthard said “the incident management team, the people that come out and help you on the street when you have a problem, they were in a line and it was beautiful. They had their lights on.”

Fire Departments from other cities and towns set up their apparatus and firefighters stood outside with their hands on their hearts as the procession went by.

On Saturday, Firefighter Sheltra’s body will ride on the fire truck for the final time as a grateful community says thank you.

Friday night, he won’t be alone.

Copyright 2016 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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