Thursday, June 21, 2007

5-5-5-5-5 Charleston S.C. Warehouse Fire Kills NINE Firefighters


A fast-moving fire in a Charleston, S.C furniture store killed nine firefighters, the largest single loss of firefighter lives since 9/11/01. Five bells rung five times is the New York City Fire Departments way of announcing line of duty deaths.

The Monday blaze broke out in a furniture warehouse. One report states that “More than a dozen firefighters who rushed into the burning furniture superstore knew — or thought they knew — two things: employees were trapped inside and the blaze was small enough to control.”

Firefighters searching for victims and trying to battle the fire picked their way through rows of sofas and mattresses stacked five and six high on racks in the cavernous warehouse, a corrugated-metal structure next to a gas station.

"It was burning everything. As fast as they would put out one side, another hot spot would pop up," said Lesley Broughton, who lives in the neighborhood and works as a clerk at a convenience store near the gutted furniture store. "Then glass started breaking and they told everybody to get back and finally it was just an inferno."

Sadly, a glitch in Charleston’s buildings codes may have played a part in this tragedy. The building had no fire sprinklers and was not required to have them. The fire chief said sprinklers would not have put out the fire but would have at least slowed it.

The cause of the fire Monday night at the Sofa Super Store, and exactly how the men were killed, were under investigation, but officials said arson was not suspected.

One erroneous report stated, “Buildings that contain a lot of furniture are especially vulnerable, because of the wood lacquer, polyurethane foam and other combustible materials that can reach flashover at a relatively low temperature — sometimes within minutes of a fire's outset.”

The highly flammable contents do NOT allow a flashovers to be reached “at relatively low temperatures,” but allows those high temperatures needed for flashover to be reached much sooner.

Store owner Herb Goldstein said in a statement: "All of us at Sofa Super Store are devastated and heartbroken by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of the heroic firefighters who lost their lives."

A fund has been established for the fallen firefighters. Donations can be sent to: The City of Charleston Firemen's Fund, P.O. Box 304, Charleston, SC, 29402 or at ANY BankAmerica branch throughout the USA.

The dead were;

Fire Captain William "Billy" Hutchinson-Age: 48-Years with department: 30

Fire Captain Mike Benke-Age: 49 -Years with department: 29 years

Fire Captain Louis Mulkey -Age: 34 -Years with department: 11 1/2 years

Fire Engineer Mark Kelsey -Age: 40 Years with department: 12 1/2 years

Fire Engineer Bradford "Brad" Baity, Age: 37 -Years with department: 9

Fire Assistant Engineer Michael French-Age: 27-Years with department: 1 1/2 years

Firefighter James "Earl" Drayton-Age: 56-Years with department: 32 years

Firefighter Brandon Thompson-Age: 27-Years with department: Four years

Firefighter Melven Champaign-Age: 46-Years with department: Two years
ADD ANOTHER FIVE FIVES...For a Firefighter From Brooklyn;
A 23 y/o FDNY firefighter from Brooklyn was killed earlier this evening (Thursday, June 21, 2007) after falling from the roof of a four story building in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn (pictured above top) while operating at a fire at that Meserole Street address.
Dan Pujdak of Ladder Co. 146 in Brooklyn was pronounced dead on arrival at Bellevue Hospital after being taken there from the scene of the 5 pm fire. Pujdak, who lived in Queens had been on the FDNY for two years.
Officials say the fire was started by an unattended cigarette.
No one else was hurt in the late afternoon blaze.


Dan O. said...

A lot of years of experience lost in one tragedy. Very sad. Rest easy brothers.

JMK said...

I'm sure more information will come out as it becomes available Dan O. Right now it seems as though the Building Code that didn't require sprinklers in such buildings played a big part in this.

Nine one fire, NINE dead, from something like a 230 man Department...almost 4% of that Department down in one tragedy!

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