Nine firefighters will be remembered Monday, 11 years after they died battling an inferno at West Ashley's Sofa Super Store.
A small blaze on the Savannah Highway furniture store's loading dock on June 18, 2007, quickly grew, bringing down the roof with the men inside. It had been the deadliest disaster for firefighters since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and it later prompted extensive changes at the Charleston Fire Department.
Since then, family members, fellow firefighters and others have gathered on the site that became Charleston 9 Memorial Park. Members of the public are invited to attend Monday's 7 p.m. service at 1807 Savannah Highway, city officials said.
The ceremony will include remarks from Mayor John Tecklenburg and Interim Fire Chief Joseph Roberts, along with a roll call of the nine and other Charleston firefighters who have died in the line of duty. A lone bagpiper will play "Amazing Grace."
After the event, people will have time for reflection.
Later, at midnight, Charleston firefighters will begin a 24-hour watch at the park's flagpole.
Fire Marshal Mike Julazadeh, a department spokesman, said carpooling to the memorial is encouraged. While the park's car lot is not available for the event, he said people can park in a vacant lot on Wappoo Road near the West Ashley Bikeway.
The firefighters lost that day 11 years ago were Brad Baity, Mike Benke, Melvin Champaign, Earl Drayton, Mike French, Billy Hutchinson, Mark Kelsey, Louis Mulkey and Brandon Thompson.