13 years later: Honoring the 9 Charleston firefighters killed in the Sofa Superstore Fire

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Thursday marks 13 years since nine Charleston firefighters were killed in a fire at the Sofa Superstore on Savannah Highway.

It was June 18th, 2007 at 7:09 p.m. when the alarm sounded – firefighters sprang into action.

Black smoke was seen pouring from the furniture store and warehouse, and as firefighters began to battle the flames, a 911 call comes in saying an employee is trapped inside.

Firefighters rushed inside and rescued the employee. The fire quickly consumed the building once that worker was freed.

But the firefighters still inside the building sent out a “mayday call.” The fire caused the roof to collapse. That call would be one of the last things we heard from the nine heroes inside.

“Tonight… A great and heroic tragedy has befallen our community. Brave members of the City of Charleston Fire Department, fighting this massive blaze in a store filled with fuel, among the most combustible of fuel, a sofa store. This massive fire has produced several city of Charleston firefighters who are now missing,” said Charleston Mayor Joe Riley as he addressed the community that night.

The following day, each fallen firefighter was carried out of the store by their brothers, one-by-one, in a silent, solemn salute.

We remember and honor those nine lives on this 13th anniversary:

  • Captain Billy Hutchinson
  • Captain Louis Mulkey
  • Captain Mike Benke
  • Engineer Brad Baity
  • Engineer Mark Kelsey
  • Assistant Engineer Michael French
  • Firefighter Brandon Thompson
  • Firefighter Earl Drayton
  • Firefighter Melvin Champaign

City of Charleston firefighters will stand watch at the site, now known as the Charleston 9 Memorial, for 24 hours.

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