A team of experts hired by the city of Charleston to investigate the Sofa Super Store blaze that killed nine firefighters have released e-mails that claim the Charleston Fire Department was “a mess.” The city of Charleston paid consultant Gordon Routley and a team of fire experts $284,000 to investigate the details of the tragic 2007 Sofa Super Store fire.
Although the six-member team tried its hardest to remain neutral during their investigation, according to the Post and Courier, in private e-mails they had a great deal of criticism and complaints against the Charleston Fire Department’s leadership. Routley headed the panel and told WCIV in Charleston, “We found more and more things that the situation was preventable, it could have been prevented, it should have been prevented in several different ways.”
The e-mails also spoke of Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, saying, “He is a master old southern politician, and he is working hard to make something ugly smell like a rose.” In his initial reactions, Riley stood firm that now-retired Chief Rusty Thomas, and the Charleston Fire Department were among the best in the country. However, according to the e-mails, there was much opposition to Riley’s statements.