The State Law Enforcement Division has concluded its much-anticipated examination of the Sofa Super Store fire and forwarded its report to Solicitor Scarlett Wilson for review.
Wilson had been waiting on the report to determine whether criminal charges should be filed in connection with the June 18, 2007, blaze that killed nine Charleston firefighters in West Ashley. SLED spokesman Jennifer Timmons told The Associated Press on Thursday the report was sent to Wilson this week.
Timmons referred all questions to the 9th Circuit Solicitor's Office when contacted by The Post and Courier. Wilson did not return a call or an e-mail message sent by the newspaper.
Wilson requested the SLED review last year after meeting with relatives of two firefighters who died in the inferno. Some family members of Capts. Louis Mulkey and William Hutchinson gave Wilson eight binders of materials they say prove that Charleston Fire Department commanders exposed fire crews to unnecessary and deadly risks with insufficient training and leadership.
They maintain that those actions constitute criminal negligence, a position the city's attorneys don't agree with. Some family members also don't support this stance.
SLED agents worked closely with city detectives for several months on the initial investigation into the fire, but agents primarily focused on the cause of the blaze at that time.
Charleston police already have conducted an 18-month investigation into the blaze and turned over their results to Wilson. But critics contend that Charleston police have an inherent conflict of interest investigating a sister agency. Police deny that is the case.
Mike Mulkey, whose son died in the fire, said he was pleased the SLED review has been completed, though he has not seen the report. "To me, this is progress," he said.
Randy Hutchinson, who lost his brother in the fire, said it's a bit unfair that Wilson has been placed in the middle and has to examine the actions of agencies she regularly works with. "But we will give her the opportunity to make a decision here," he said. "Either way, this is not going away at all."