Thousands Gather As Charleston Mourns

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(June 22, 2007)—Friday was a day of mourning in Charleston, S.C.

An estimated 30,000 people including as many as 8,000 firefighters from across the country gathered there to honor nine Charleston firefighters who died Monday when the roof of a burning furniture store warehouse collapsed.

The day began with a procession of a hundred fire trucks, which drove past the gutted warehouse.

Nine firefighters carried the helmets of their fallen comrades into the city’s coliseum.

Investigators continue to sift through the rubble of the warehouse.

Officials released tapes of 911 calls about the fire, which shed light on why the nine men were in the burning building when the roof collapsed.

Dispatcher: Units be advised. We have someone on the floor trapped inside the Sofa Super Store.
Officer: We copy.
Dispatcher: Please send more to the back.
Officer: Whereabouts at the back of the building?
Dispatcher: He's beating on the wall with a hammer trying to get someone's attention.

Firefighters rescued the trapped employee, but evidently thought more people were inside the burning warehouse and continued their search.

The man they pulled to safety, however, was the only person still in the store.

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