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Charleston 9 annual memorial closed to public due to COVID-19

The livestreamed event will feature remarks from officials with fire department personnel standing watch at the memorial site


By Laura French

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Charleston 9 memorial ceremony on the 13th anniversary of the furniture store fire that killed nine firefighters will be closed to the public due to COVID-19 and livestreamed online.

The ceremony will take place at the Charleston 9 Memorial Park, the former site of the Sofa Super Store where the nine firefighters died in the line of duty. Only personnel conducting the ceremony and those speaking at the event will be allowed at the site due to the pandemic, according to Live 5 News.

The Charleston Fire Department will stream the ceremony on its Facebook page at 7 p.m. ET.

Fire department personnel have been standing watch at the memorial park’s flagpole since midnight and will continue the watch for 24 hours.

Family members of the fallen firefighters will be allowed periods to privately visit the site throughout the day.

The event will honor nine Charleston firefighters who died battling the blaze on the evening of June 18, 2007:

  • Engineer Brad Baity - Engine 19
  • Capt. Mike Benke - Engine 16
  • Firefighter Melvin Champaign - Engine 16
  • Firefighter James “Earl” Drayton - Engine 19
  • Asst. Engineer Michael French - Ladder 5
  • Capt. William Hutchinson - Engine 19
  • Engineer Mark Kelsey - Ladder 5
  • Capt. Louis Mulkey - Engine 15
  • Firefighter Brandon Thompson - Ladder 5