City officials released the draft report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health regarding the June 18 Sofa Super Store fire. Recommendations will not be released until the final report is complete, but the draft version provides a summary of the events that led to the death of nine Charleston firefighters in the Savannah Highway blaze.
The fire quickly outgrew the available suppression water supply and the interior crews became disoriented as the heat rapidly intensified and visibility dropped to zero as the thick black smoke filled the showroom from floor to ceiling.
Soon after, the flammable mixture of combustion by-products ignited, and fire raced through the main showroom. Interior fire fighters were caught in the rapid fire progression and nine fire fighters from the first-responding fire department died. At least six fire fighters barely escaped serious injury.
The report was given to the city and the firefighters union for review. Mayor Joe Riley, who was criticized last weekend for his initial decision to delay releasing the city’s independent review team report, was quick to release this draft report to the public. He announced Tuesday that the city report will be released next Thursday, May 15.
“Apparently (the NIOSH) report, which is pre-decisional and has not been finalized, is a report that normally is not publicly distributed,” Riley said in announcing the release. “My belief is that because of the understandable immense interest in the Sofa Super Store fire that it is very important that everyone be aware even of this draft document so that this process is public and transparent.”