Raw Video from WCBD-TV/Counton2.com
CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Mayor Joe Riley confirmed on CNN this morning that nine firefighters were were killed Monday night in a massive blaze at a sofa store and warehouse here.
Most were killed he said, when a large set of shelves collapsed in the rear of the one-story building. He did not think there were sprinklers in the building. He also said the firefighters were looking for employees at the time and had no warning about the inpending tragedy.
Other local news organizations were reporting the store's roof collapsed and sent debris over about two-dozen rescue workers while spectators were hit with flying ash.
Riley called the missing firefighters heroes. "This is a profession that we must never take for granted," the mayor said. "There's a fire raging and they go toward it."
There were reports of other firefighters injured as well.
Video of the scene showed a line of firefighters standing at attention, saluting as the bodies of the firefighters were carried from the building.
A crisis team from the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation was deployed, and were en route to Charleston just after midnight, said Ron Siarnicki, NFFF executive director.
"The team will be in Charleston to help the department in any way it can. We're there to support them during this time."
Firehouse.com will be updating this story throughout the morning as more details become available.