Arkansas Firefighters Mourn for S.C. Loss

JONESBORO, AR -- Just 3 days ago, 9 firefighters were killed while fighting a fire at a furniture store in Charleston, South Carolina. It's our nation's deadliest firefighting tragedy since 9-11.

Here in Arkansas, firefighters at the annual Arkansas Professional Firefighters Convention in Jonesboro are full of questions as to how this could've happened.

"We don't know what caused it yet. We only know what news reports have made available and we will wait till the investigation is done by the Fire Marshalls office and I'm sure the insurance offices will do an investigation on it and see if there is any way we can learn from this tragedy," says Peter Reagan, the president of the Arkansas Professional Firefighters Convention.

The fire ignited around 7:00 Monday night. Two employees at the Sofa Super Store in Charleston were rescued from the fire which apparently started outside in a trash bin.

"Our main goal when you're fighting fires is rescuing those that are trapped. Once you have that accomplished, we don't generally worry about the structure," says Reagan.

But regardless, the firefighters here believe those 9 firefighters were inside the burning building for a reason and they now mourn the loss of their brothers.

"99 percent of firefighters are not doing their jobs because of the pay. They're doing it because they love helping other people, especially those who are in need," says Reagan.

"Any city anywhere you can walk in and say I work at this fire department in this town and it's like they've known you their whole life so yes, it does strengthen the brotherhood. The brotherhood is pretty strong as is but it just makes it even tighter," says Jonesboro Firefighter Paul Pittman.

A bus is leaving out Friday morning from Little Rock carrying many Arkansas Firefighters. They are traveling to South Carolina for the memorial services and to pay their respects to their fellow firefighters.