Charleston Sofa Store Fire Report to be Released May 15

Victim families felt to wait so long for a document that could possibly help with closure was hard for them to accept.

Mayor Joe Riley announce at a noon press conference that the report put together by the city-appointed panel of experts led by Fire Chief Gordon Routley, will in fact be presented to the city and released on Thursday, May 15.

The mayor announced last Friday that the investigative report on the Charleston, South Carolina Sofa Super Store fire in which nine firefighters died would be delayed until two federal agencies complete their probes of the blaze, believing the report needed the input from the additional investigations.

The city and mayor came under fire immediately from local and national firefighter unions suggesting the delay was a cover-up and protection from controversy for the city. In a statement International Association of Fire Fighters General President Harold Schaitberger said "The IAFF and our members in Charleston offer a thank you to Mayor Riley today for his decision to release the Phase II report of the Fire Review Team. That report is badly needed by our Local 61 members and the families of the fallen to make the necessary changes within the Charleston Fire Department and to let the healing continue for the entire community".

Chief Routley said he could see no reason for delaying the report's release, but it was not his decision.

Today the mayor said he informed Fire Chief Rusty Thomas last night that he had changed his mind. The mayor said he had talked with firefighters and they voiced a strong opinion that they would not be comfortable waiting for the report. He said those in contact with the victims families said they felt that to wait so long for a document that could possibly help with closure was hard for them to accept.

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