Pineville Fire Department: ‘We are bringing our brother home’

The body of a fallen Pineville volunteer firefighter was moved to the funeral home Friday, a day before his funeral. It was a day that Pineville Fire Department members said they were “bringing our brother home.”

Richard Sheltra, 20, died in the line of duty last weekend when he responded to a fire at a Edwin Watts golf store on Pineville-Matthews Road. Investigators said a lightning strike started the fire.

Firefighters working to put out the fire at one point reported that Sheltra was lost in the building but was on his way out, according to an audio recording of communications at the scene.

Officials said Sheltra died of smoke inhalation while battling the fire in the Countryside shopping center.

Sheltra, a volunteer firefighter in Pineville for the past three years, was the department’s 2015 Rookie of the Year. Chief Michael Gerin has described Sheltra as a dedicated volunteer who served honorably and nobly.

Friday afternoon, a firetruck carrying a flag-draped casket was escorted to McEwen Funeral Home on Park Road.

Sheltra, a Charlotte native, is described as having “a kind soul with a quiet demeanor and servant’s heart” with firefighting in his blood.

A tweet from the Pineville Fire Department showed photos from their perspective of the procession down Freedom Drive to Interstate 85 and Interstate 77.

They also included a Bible verse in their tweet, John 15:13, a verse that also appeared in Sheltra’s obituary: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.”

According to the Pineville Volunteer Fire Department, a public memorial service will be held at the Forest Hill Church (South Park campus), on Park Road in Charlotte on Saturday. The service will start at noon.

In lieu of flowers, the family asked that any donations be mailed to the Charlotte Fire Department Credit Union, 2100 Commonwealth Ave., Charlotte, N.C. 28205.

These contributions will be used for firefighter turnout gear and educational resources.

The Charlotte Observer contributed to this report