CHARLESTON, SC-Three people were found dead in the aftermath of a fire at
348 King Street today. The orignal response was for E2, E3, T4, and C2 to
respond to this address for smoke in the area. Upon arrival of E2,
companies tried to force entry through a front facade that was
double-boarded up (the building was vacant). After several unsuccessful
attempts, E3s crew tried to advance through a second floor window via a 24'
ladder, but encountered the same situation. A large glass window was broken
and an aggressive interior attack insued. E3 laid a supply line to E2 to
the hydrant on King Street (near Byrnes Lane). C2 decided E6 was needed and
called for them.

A lot of different things happened next. I didn't keep up with who came and
went in what order, but I will list on the bottom which units did end up
responding. To summarize for you, T4 went into operation on the West side
of the building. E2, E6, E11, E12, E15, and several others put 2.5"
handlines in operation along with a multitude of 1.5" handlines. E7 and
another company (I am not sure which one) laid lines (totalling 4 lines) to
T4.

For those of you all who have never been to Charleston, King Street is our
major 'touristy' shopping area. The street is a one-way street that narrows
considerably below Calhoun Street (also another major artery Downtown).
Businesses vary from restaurants to apartment buildings to historical
shrines to churches to just about anything else that a property owner can
put there and make a buck on renting out. The buildings are almost always
connected somehow and cut up into different businesses and apartments. The
majority of the buildings were built in the 1800s and are constructed with
heavy timber and tongue and groove ceilings and floors. Masonry is not
uncommon and this building had masonry walls on both sides which ended up
helping reduce the threat of the fire spreading. The building was last
known as 'Momma's Money' and was a night club. I am not sure how long it
had been vacant.

Chief Russell B. Thomas, Jr. makes it no secret that King Street could end
up being one of our worst nightmares. There have been cases in the past
where fires have more or less 'walked right on down'. It is our
department's policy to aggressively attack any fire with the hopes that is
will reduce the likelihood of spreading to any adjacent building. Such was
the case today on this building.

The ceiling caved in the middle and rear of the building. Two firefighters
(one from T4 and the other from E2) sustained injuries in this and were
taken to the hospital. Neither injuries are believed to be life-threatening
(very good news to say the least). Crews were ordered to remove their lines
and reposition between the buildings on either side. Ground ladders were
used to access the third story rooves and lines were advanced to multiple
locations.

This is the third major fire in less than a one month period. The first was
at 157 Calhoun Street (corner of King and Calhoun Streets) at the
Jackson-Davenport building. That was on December 13th. That fire taxed our
department considerably and causing us to rely on mutual aid from not on
Charleston County, but also Dorchester County departments. The second fire
was on January 4th in the 'Sticky FIngers' Restaurant located at 235
Meeting Street. That fire did not require quite the same amount of units,
but was almost the same level in comparison to the potential it could have
had.

I should have photos of this fire also, so if anyone is interested, please
feel free to e-mail me with your request. I will also try to update the
conditions of the two firefighters when that information becomes available.
Thank you all in advance for your prayers.

Units responding-E2, E3, E6, E7, E8, E9, E10, E11, E12, E13, E15, E16, T1,
T4, T5, C1, C2, C3, C4, C8, C9, C11, HAZMAT1, Fire Investigator, Charleston
Police, Charleston County EMS Medic #1,
North Charleston FD, Ashley River FD, Red Cross

J.T. BASS
CHARLESTON, SC
http://www.charleston.net/org/cfd
(CFD Unofficial Homepage)