Nine firefighters died last night when the roof of a burning furniture store in Charleston, SC, collapsed in what one onlooker described as a "30-foot tornado of flames." The mayor said no city firefighter had died on the job in his 30 years in office, and to "lose nine is just unbelievable."
Fire broke out at about 7 p.m., apparently in a storage area. The mayor said arson is not suspected, and CNN reported that the building had no sprinkler system. Rescue workers removed the bodies of the firefighters throughout the night. Said one firefighter who arrived on the scene after the sudden collapse: "They didn't have a chance."