Fire department honors 'Charleston 9' with memorial

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC/AP) - Monday marks the five year anniversary of the deaths of nine Charleston firefighters that were killed battling a blaze at a furniture store.

An area on Savannah Highway where the Super Sofa Store used to be is now a Charleston 9 tribute park with stone markers erected for each of the men who died.

The memorial service on Monday included a procession of firefighters, an announcement of the nine men and the ringing of a bell for each.

New this year, the Charleston Fire Department has added a musical tribute by James Smith, a man who performed at the very first ceremony five years ago.

This tragedy was the largest loss of firefighters since the 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and it has touched firefighters from other departments.

Also in honor of the Charleston 9, a guard has been standing on the site and remained there for 24 hours.

In memory of that tragic event, Gov. Nikki Haley has asked that all flags statewide lowered to half staff on Monday.

On Facebook, Haley also asks people to please say a prayer and thank all of the first responders for taking the call without hesitation.

The fire is thought to have been started by discarded cigarettes in a loading dock. Fire experts hired by the city concluded that inadequate training, outdated tactics and aging equipment contributed to the deaths.

Sofa Super Store has agreed to pay roughly $1.9 million to settle claims brought by families of those firefighters. The company has since gone out of business.

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