I followed the story on the news last night about the Sofa Super Store blazing out of control. Of all the things that was most surprising of all the bits and pieces of information that was released was that there was not a sprinkler system in that building. I have shopped there many times and just never noticed. The one employee who I recall who worked there was a man named Earl. He was very nice to me whenever I shopped there. To hear that 9 firefighters were killed was just something that took my breath away.
I have a friend whose husband is a fire fighter here at the station in downtown Charleston on Cannon Street. This morning before the names were released I was afraid to call her house for fear that she lost her husband. I called her job instead and they told me she was not in today. As I also know her assistant personally, I was able to talk to her and she assured me that my friend did not loose her husband fighting that fire. He was there, but not lost. The assistant told me that she had spoken to my friend and that one of their best friends was the firefighter who apparently gave a "mayday" over the radio. Sad and chilling.
It just seems unreal. We have not ever had any sort of tragedy like that here. It just does not seem fair that so many could have been lost in that disaster. They truly are heroes. They were doing their jobs protecting the public when tragedy came in like a thief and stole precious lives, changing the lives of their friends and family forever.
I, like so many others, had to drive by the place today. It was a zoo. The traffic out there is just terrible...mostly from all of us ( me being guilty) rubbernecking. The one thing I did notice was that there are 9 crosses place in a line in front of the building and that people had already begun to bring flowers, balloons and other mementos to remember the fallen nine. As I was stuck in traffic trying to get off of Savannah highway, I heard on the radio that the authorities were asking people not to drive by as traffic was terribly snarled from all the cars. The radio announcer said that there will be time to come by as it will be like that for quite some time with the pending investigation and everything.
I will wait a few says before going back. Maybe Sunday after church I will leave some flowers. I bet that will be a busy day. I bet many will have the same idea I have Sunday afternoon. My prayers go out to the families of all those lost. We have lost 9 heroes, irreplaceable in every way.
- Capt William "Billy" Hutchinson, 48
- Capt Mike Benke, 49
- Capt Louis Mulkey, 34
- Engineer Mark Kelsey, 40
- Engineer Bradford "Brad" Baity, 37
- Assistant Engineer Michael French, 27
- Firefighter James "Earl" Drayton, 56
- Firefighter Brandon Thompson, 27
- Firefighter Melven Champaign, 46
They truly lived the firefighters prayer:
The Firefighter's Prayer
When I am called to duty, God, whenever flames may rage;
Give me strength to save some life, whatever be its age.
Help me embrace a little child before it is too late
Or save an older person from the horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert and hear the weakest shout,
And quickly and efficiently to put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling and to give the best in me,
To guard my every neighbor and protect his property.
And if, according to my fate, I am to lose my life;
Please bless with your protecting hand
my children and my wife.