Movie honors S.C. firefighter, coach who died in sofa store fire
THE GREEN WAVE
“The Green Wave” tells the true story of Captain Louis Mulkey, a Charleston city firefighter for 11 and a half years.
Mulkey was an alum from Summerville High School in Charleston, returning in 2002 to coach basketball and football.
After Mulkey’s death, his underdog basketball team continued to play with a dream of winning the state championship in his honor.
Mulkey was also inducted into the Summerville High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013. And the Summerville High School Gym was later renamed “The Fire House” in Mulkey’s honor.
“The Green Wave” will premiere at 7 p.m. during Summerville Dream’s Third Thursday event on Short Central and Hutchinson Square.
SOFA SUPER STORE FIRE IN 2007
Mulkey was one of the nine firefighters who died in the Sofa Super Store fire on the night of June 18, 2007 in West Ashley.
According to reports, fire crews responded to a fire at the back of the Sofa Super Store on Savannah Highway at 7:09 p.m. Within forty minutes, the store would be engulfed in flames.
By 7:23 p.m., smoke and fire could be seen above the West showroom where three of the firefighters were later found.
Just after 7:30 p.m., a mayday call goes out over the radio. Firefighters then smashed the front windows to clear smoke out and give firefighters inside a chance to escape. Within minutes, the showroom went up in flames.
At 7:45 p.m., the roof of the showroom collapsed.
By 10 p.m. that night, the fire was under control. The next morning, officials found the remains of all nine missing firefighters.
At the time, it was the deadliest firefighter disaster in the U.S. since the September 11 attacks.
THE CHARLESTON 9
The firefighters who died in the Sofa Super Store fire were:
- Engineer Brad Baity - Engine 19
- Capt. Mike Benke - Engine 16
- Firefighter Melvin Champaign - Engine 16
- Firefighter James “Earl” Drayton - Engine 19
- Asst. Engineer Michael French - Ladder 5
- Capt. William Hutchinson - Engine 19
- Engineer Mark Kelsey - Ladder 5
- Capt. Louis Mulkey - Engine 15
- Firefighter Brandon Thompson - Ladder 5
Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten said that the firefighters died of a combination of smoke inhalation and burns, and not from injuries sustained in the building collapse.
Fire investigators said they believe a discarded cigarette tossed on the loading dock behind the store, where highly flammable and combustible liquids were being improperly stored, alongside discarded furniture, is the most likely cause of the fire that day.
The Charleston 9 Memorial Park, located at 1807 Savannah Highway in West Ashley, is the former site of the Sofa Super Store.
The city of Charleston bought the property in 2008. A pathway from the parking area leads to a flagpole and plaque at the center of the park where nine markers represent the location of each of the fallen when they died.
Copyright 2021 WRDW/WCSC. All rights reserved.