Firefighters begin Charleston 9 remembrance 14 years after deadly fire Remembrance comes as police investigate vandalism of the new fire station
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The city of Charleston will honor the nine firefighters who died 14 years ago Friday battling a West Ashley furniture store fire.
The nine city firefighters died on the evening of June 18, 2007, while they fought a fire at the Sofa Super Store on Savannah Highway.
Charleston Fire Department personnel began a 24-hour watch at the flag pole of the Charleston 9 Memorial Park at midnight Friday morning in honor of the fallen:
Firefighter Brandon Thompson - Ladder 5
Engineer Brad Baity - Engine 19
Capt. Louis Mulkey - Engine 15
Engineer Mark Kelsey - Ladder 5
Capt. Mike Benke - Engine 16
Capt. William Hutchinson - Engine 19
Firefighter Melvin Champaign - Engine 16
Asst. Engineer Michael French - Ladder 5
Firefighter James “Earl” Drayton - Engine 19
A scaled-back version of the city’s annual remembrance ceremony held at 7 p.m. at the park, which is the former site of the store.
The remembrance comes as police investigate vandalism of the new fire station. Police say someone fired shots at the fire station, which is adjacent to the memorial park, causing approximately $10,000 damage.
But Charleston Fire Chief Dan Curia said the vandalism would not be a distraction to honoring the Charleston 9.
“What I can tell you is, as disappointed as I am, as angry as I am, what we won’t do is, we will not shift the focus of the Charleston Fire Department away from the nine firefighters who gave their lives at the Sofa Super Store fire. That’s our focus,” he said Thursday at an afternoon news conference.
Investigators are working to review surveillance camera footage in the area.