Charleston to mark 14th anniversary of deadly fire that killed 9 firefighters
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston Fire Department will hold a scaled back remembrance ceremony honoring the Charleston 9, nine city firefighters who died battling a furniture store fire.
The firefighters died fighting a massive fire at the Sofa Super Store on Savannah Highway on the evening of June 18, 2007.
The ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. on June 18 at the former site of the store, which is now the Charleston 9 Memorial Park.
Members of the fire service and the community are invited to attend the ceremony but must adhere to current COVID-19 recommendations, Charleston Fire Marshal Mike Julazadeh said.
Charleston Fire Department personnel will initiate a watch at the flag pole of the memorial park starting at midnight on June 18 and continuing for 24 hours.
The roughly-half-hour ceremony will honor the service of the nine firefighters:
- 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
Julazadeh said seating and parking will be limited.
Because of current social distancing recommendations, families of the fallen and past members of the Charleston Fire Department will be offered priority seating in a tented area.
Parking will be available behind the new Fire Station 11 (currently under construction) at 1835 Savannah Highway and at the vacant lot off of Wappoo Road near the West Ashley Bikeway. Carpooling is recommended, Julazadeh said.
Members from the Lowcountry Firefighter Support Team and the Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy will be on site to offer support throughout the event.
The land adjacent to the park will become the home for Charleston Fire Department Station 11. The station, which is currently nearing completion, will be connected to the memorial site when it is completed.
It has been designed to commemorate the Charleston 9 through the use of nine windows, one for each fallen hero, that will face out to the memorial site. Additionally, all of the fire trucks in the apparatus bay will be visible from the Memorial Park.
The new two-story, 14,000-square foot building will house the central training center, administrative spaces, sleeping and living quarters.
It will also be the new home for the historic bell from the old Meeting Street Station. The fire department says this is to remind of the significance of these heroic public servants. The bell tower will be at the main entrance of the new building.
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