For Immediate Release
Press Contact: Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, PIO, (510) 981-7008


Berkeley, California (Tuesday, June 19, 2007) - Yesterday in Charleston, South Carolina, nine firefighters were clearing employees out of a burning sofa store when the roof collapsed. Although several employees were sent to local hospitals, all survived. It was the worst loss of firefighters in a single incident since 9/11. According to news reports, those killed were:
 Capt. William "Billy" Hutchinson, 48;

Capt. Mike Benke, 49;

Capt. Louis Mulkey, 34;

Engineer Mark Kelsey, 40;

Engineer Bradford "Brad" Baity, 37;

Assistant Engineer Michael French, 27;

James "Earl" Drayton, 56;

Brandon Thompson, 27; and

Melven Champaign, 46.

"There is no doubt that it takes very brave men and women to rush into burning buildings," said City Manager Phil Kamlarz in a memo to Mayor Tom Bates and the City Council. "We are honored to have such people working for this City, as they work in every city. Out of respect for Charleston’s loss, for their families, and for the men and women of the Berkeley Fire Department, fire station flags will fly at half-staff until a memorial service or the funerals are held."