Eight years ago today, a call was received for a fire in a Sofa Super Store in Charleston, SC. The fire would start in the loading dock behind the store and eventually would take over the rest of the 42,000 square foot structure.
The Charleston 9, as the victims came to be known, died at the scene of the fire on the evening of June 18, 2007.
The victims were Engineer Bradford "Brad" Baity, of Engine 19; Capt. Mike Benke of Engine 16; Firefighter Melvin Champaign, of Engine 16; Firefighter James "Earl" Drayton, of Engine 19; Asst. Engineer Michael French, of Ladder 5; Capt. William Hutchinson, of Engine 19; Engineer Mark Kelsey, of Ladder 5; Capt. Louis Mulkey, of Engine 15; and Firefighter Brandon Thompson, of Ladder 5.
The building had no fire sprinkler system. The fire started at approximately 7:00 p.m. in a covered loading dock area built between the showroom and warehouse buildings which was attached to both buildings.
At the time, the business was still open and employees were present. Charleston firefighters arrived on the scene within three minutes of the alarm.
The Charleston Chronicle details some of the events of that day and how the fire spread throughout the building in an article posted yesterday. They ask us all, and we agree, to never forget these men or their sacrifice.