Charleston's Officers also Reeling from Blaze

"This has affected all of us. We're all public servants. We just wear different uniforms."

CHARLESTON -- The devastating blaze last week that claimed the lives of nine firefighters here has taken a toll on the entire public safety community.

"This has been devastating for all of us. We have a personal connection with our firefighters," said Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen.

Likewise, Charleston County Sheriff J. Al Cannon Jr. said the loss is being felt by his deputies.

Both agencies have been involved with the on-going investigation to determine how the deadly fire at the Super Sofa Store started.

As the store erupted into flames last Monday night, city officers were there to handle traffic and crowd control.

They haven't left.

"Police in Charleston and firefighters are tight. We work together, and we're grieving together with them right now," Mullen said after a press conference Saturday morning as his officers continued their vigil.

Mullen said they will remain at the site for the next three to five days. After that, the property will be turned over back over to the owner.

"Our hearts go out to the families. This has been a difficult time."

Counselors are available to assist the officers as they deal with the myriad of emotions.

The local public service community has had its share of tragedy recently, and is leaning on each other once again.

"We've had two shot in the line of duty recently," said Capt. John Clark, of the Charleston County Sheriff's Office.

The first responders assisted during the search for a constable, who was shot and killed during a traffic stop. Their jobs, although different in mission, often mingle. And, Clark said the groups work well together.

"This has affected all of us. We're all public servants. We just wear different uniforms."

Deputies have been assisting with forensic collection, photography and other tasks at the fire scene.

Clark said the deputies as others in the Charleston area are still shell-shocked that such a tragedy could happen in their front yard.

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