June 22, 2007
It was a solemn procession of grief and solidarity as thousands of firefighters from across the nation and Canada gathered in Charleston to pay tribute to 9 brethren killed Monday night.
"it always hits home, if it's one person, it hits home. If it's one of brothers, it hits home and certainly 9 is a devastating tragedy" said Larry Tracy, retired New York City firefighter.
Inside the North Charleston Coliseum, family members and well wishers remembered the men lost in a furniture store inferno, the deadliest firefighting tragedy since 9-11.
So many came to honor the fallen firefighters and their families, officials set up a jumbo screen outside the Coliseum for those who couldn't get a seat inside.
"I thought about their families and what they must be going through, having to have somebody pull up in front of their house and tell them that their loved ones weren't coming home to them and what a miserable feeling that must be" said Scott Clumpner of the Dallas Fire Department.
Numerous prominent dignitaries came to mourn, including several Presidential candidates. But officials here in South Carolina promised politics would take a backseat.
So families and the community can grieve and focus on the firefighters who gave their lives to make the city of Charleston safer.
As for the investigation into the deadly fire, 911 calls were released Thursday, some supporting reports that the fire started in the back of the store where workers are known to take cigarette breaks.
Investigators have not discussed possible causes including whether or not a cigarette could have been involved.
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