HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- The owner of a Salisbury funeral home destroyed by fire said the remains of a third person are trapped inside the crumbled building.
Lyerly Funeral Home on S. Main Street burned Friday in a four-alarm blaze.
The caskets of two sisters were recovered late Friday and their funerals were held Saturday, but an urn containing the ashes of Korean War veteran Charles Benson could not be reached because the building is unsafe to enter.
Benson died April 8 and had been cremated for his funeral, which had been scheduled for Sunday. His family delayed the service until his urn could be recovered.
Benson’s daughter, Melissa Phillips, had stopped by the funeral home Friday to make final arrangements, and found the building on fire.
“The funeral home was in flames and it was like, 'Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, how awful,'” she said. She felt “just this intense sense of loss, then this fear that we weren’t going to have anything to bury honestly.”
Phillips said funeral home owner Brent Lyerly had spotted the pedestal and flags from Benson’s memorial display, and was confident the marble urn could be recovered.
Benson will be buried with military honors at a family plot in Woodleaf.
Meanwhile, investigators spent Saturday morning determining what it would take to shore up the building, whose walls and ceiling are partially collapsed.
“We don’t want those components to fall in on investigators, so we want to make the atmosphere they’re working in as safe as possible,” said Salisbury Fire Dept. battalion chief David Morris.
Morris said the department will bring in heavy equipment Monday to stabilize the structure. Lyerly said Saturday the building looked like a total loss, but he plans to rebuild.
As night fell Saturday, a work crew installed a chain-link fence around the property. Curious onlookers had stopped by all day to stare and take pictures.
“Anytime anything like this happens in Salisbury, because Salisbury is small, it hits home and it affects everybody," said neighbor Lisa Steele.