June 19, 2007
Charleston firefighters are in a state of disbelief, struggling to cope with the loss of nine of their brethren, killed when the roof of a burning furniture business collapsed Monday night.
"This a tragic event for our community, the magnitude of which is difficult to fathom," said Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley.
The building was packed with furniture that quickly caught fire and turned the blaze into an inferno. Firefighters broke through a wall to rescue two employees trapped inside.
The cause of the blaze is under investigation, but right now, arson is not
suspected. Officials say there may not have been sprinklers in the building.
"With a fire burning this hot, this fast, with this type of building, it was
just matter of time before this heat caused a collapse of the building," said Charleston Fire Chief Gregory Mullen.
Once the blaze was under control, colleagues paid silent tribute to their
fallen comrades as they were carried out.
"In any type of emergency services department, we are family. We pull together at times like this. We help each other get through, and we are going to get through this," said Mullen.
Cleanup operations are underway while this city begins the grim task of planning funerals for the dead, nine firefighters killed in the line of duty who will forever be remembered as heroes.