On May 25th, 1979, Firefighter Floyd “Nick” Sharts, along with three other Shelby firefighters and a city gas utility worker, were killed in the line of duty during a fire in Uptown Shelby on West Warren Street. The fire originated in a storefront business, spread throughout the row of tenant spaces and threatened to consume the entire city block. During the fire, an explosion inside triggered a massive collapse of the building killing the five, and injuring twelve other firefighters. Additionally, over thirty civilians that had gathered at the scene of the fire were injured. Killed in the line of duty along with Firefighter Sharts, were Lieutenant George Magness, Firefighter Donald “Gene” Melton, Firefighter Nathan Hall, and city gas worker Max Bowling. It was later determined that the fire was arson. The Shelby fire is largest single event line of duty death of firefighters in North Carolina.
This firefighter line of duty fatality occurred before the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial was built in Emmitsburg, Maryland. While this firefighter has not been officially honored at the Memorial site, there are plans to do so when resources are available.