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2 more lawsuits filed in fatal Charleston fire

By BRUCE SMITH
Associated Press Writer

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Two more wrongful death lawsuits have been filed seeking damages from last year’s blaze in a furniture store that killed nine Charleston firefighters.

The lawsuits were filed in state court last month on the eve of the fire anniversary by the families of assistant engineer Michael French and firefighter Brandon Thompson, who were both 27 when they died.

The families of eight of the nine fallen firefighters have now sued in state court seeking damages from the Sofa Super Store, as well as various equipment and furniture manufacturers.

Richard Rosen, the attorney for the store, did not immediately return a phone message Monday. But he has said in response to other lawsuits that the owners cooperated with investigators and have worked to make sure a similar tragedy never occurs.

The defendants have until July 17 to file court responses.

The fire on June 18, 2007 was the greatest single loss of firefighters in the nation since the 2001 terror attack on the World Trade Center.

Last month, on the first anniversary, a bell tolled and the families of the fallen were presented medals of valor at a public memorial. Later, they gathered for a private service at the vacant lot where the store once stood.

A scathing report released in May blamed inadequate training and outdated tactics for the firefighters’ deaths.

The report, compiled by a panel of experts brought in by city, said the fire department did not follow standard safety practices and was using obsolete equipment.

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