On June 18, 2007, the Sofa Super Store in Charleston, South Carolina, caught fire. The members of the Charleston Fire Department responded. Despite their best efforts the building was a complete loss. Nine members of the Charleston Fire Department were killed when the ceiling collapsed on them after a flash-over. Combined they had more than 100 years of experience in the fire service. Those who sacrificed their lives were: Capt. Louis Mulkey, Capt. Mike Benke, Firefighter Melven Champaign, Capt. William “Billy” Hutchinson, Eng. Bradford “Brad” Baity, Firefighter James “Earl” Drayton, Eng. Mark Kelsey, Eng. Michael French, and Eng. Brandon Thompson.
Chief Bob Willgohs and Assistant Chief George Rozbora from Ratliff Community Volunteer Fire Department took Squad 10 to the Memorial Service to support their brothers in the fire service. It was a long procession with many fire departments from all over the United States represented. To all the families that lost someone-especially the family of the Charleston Fire Department-may you be comforted on this anniversary. To the memory of the Charleston 9-