Remembering the Charleston 9: A Great and Heroic Tragedy
CHARLESTON, SC (ALEX HEATON, WTAT-TV) — A fire that changed Charleston forever.
Ten years later and we remember the greatest loss of firefighters in the United States since 9/11.
It started as a sunny summer day in Charleston.
The clear skies became darkened by dark smoke billowing from the Sofa Super Store on Savannah Highway after 7 p.m. on Monday, June 18 following Father’s Day.
Several fire engines and ladders arrived at the scene.
At least 16 firefighters were still inside as conditions in the showroom worsened by the second.
By 7:31 p.m., as the showroom worsened, nine firemen were left.
Suddenly, their worst fears set in.
The firemen’s radios went silent.
By 10 p.m., the fallen heroes were brought out.
The courageous firefighters Charleston remembers and honors — Bradford “Brad” Baity, Mike Benke, Melvin Champaign, James “Earl” Drayton, Michael French, William “Billy” Hutchinson, Mark Kelsey, Louis Mulkey, and Brandon Thompson.
US Senator Tim Scott released a statement regarding the 10th anniversary of the Charleston Sofa Super Store fire saying, “Ten years ago today, we lost nine brave, selfless firefighters forever. With more than 100 years of service between them, these nine men put their lives on the line for all of us many times, and we will never forget their ultimate sacrifice. The family and friends of the Charleston 9 remain in our prayers and the memories will live on eternally.”
Changes have been made to the fire department to improve readiness and supply for future fires.
The Holy City will always and forever remember the heroic lives lost due to this tragedy.