Two Veteran Firefighters in Same NC Department Die of COVID

Aug. 18, 2021
Oak City Fire-EMS Lt. Willie Bunch, 57, died Monday, while firefighter/EMT William Stalls, who also was the town's mayor, passed away Sunday.

Editor's note: Find's complete coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic here.

Two veteran firefighters from the same North Carolina department have died from COVID-19.

Oak City Fire-EMS Lt. Willie Bunch, 57, contracted the virus while on duty, according to a U.S. Fire Administration alert. He died Monday.

According to WCTI-TV, Bunch had battled COVID for over three weeks, and his family was unable to visit him in the hospital during that time. He served with the department for more than 20 years and was described as "the gentle giant of Oak City Fire-EMS."

The department also is dealing with the loss of another longtime firefighter.

Firefighter/EMT William Stalls, 68, also was diagnosed with the virus in late July, the USFA stated. He died Sunday.

Stalls, who had been Oak City's mayor for 10 years, had been a member of the fire department for over four decades, WCTI reports.

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