Local firefighters head to Charleston for memorial

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June 21, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---There will be a memorial service in Charleston tomorrow for the nine firefighters who died in a massive warehouse blaze Monday night (June 18).

Firefighters from the Augusta area will be at the North Charleston Coliseum along with hundreds of others to honor these fallen heroes.

We were there tonight when some of them left Augusta.

"Just showing that support is very important to us," said Richmond County Fire Chief Howard Willis.

Members of the Richmond County Fire Department left Augusta tonight. Several others from the department will leave tomorrow morning. Chief Willis says now is the time to show support for their brothers.

"It's tragic," he said. "We hate to see any of our firefighters get hurt. I cannot imagine what the chief down there is going through."

"It just touches all of us, it makes us all want to go down there and show our respects to them," said Lt. Jeff Daniel.

Hundreds of firefighters from across the country are planning to attend the memorial. These firefighters say it's difficult losing any firefighter, but being so close to home has made it even harder. Some of these firefighters say they've trained with the Charleston departments, so it's like losing a member of their own department.

"We lost nine brothers the other day, and we all want to be down there and be with our brothers and see if we can help them through this tragedy," said battalion chief John Clark.

"Tomorrow is going to be rough. When they start with the bells and the bagpipes and everything else, if you don't shed a tear then there's something wrong with you."

Members of the Columbia County Fire Department and North Augusta Fire Department will also be attending the memorial tomorrow to show their support. Some of those members left earlier today.

The lineup for the processional in Charleston starts at 5 o'clock tomorrow morning, so many of them went today to be in place early.

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