2 More Firefighters Laid To Rest After Deadly Blaze In South Carolina

Sunday, June 24th 2007, 8:23 pm
By: News On 6

MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (AP) _ The young daughter of one of the nine firefighters killed fighting a blaze in a furniture store held her mother's hand as they watched his flag-draped casket be loaded onto a fire engine Sunday.

Mourners tried to comfort Donna French and young Kyla French at the funeral for their husband and father, 27-year-old Michael French, who was remembered by about 1,000 people in the Berkeley County High School gym.

Capt. Louis Mulkey, another victim of Monday's fire, was buried Sunday in Summerville as bagpipes bellowed and a siren of a fire engine wailed. Speakers remembered how when Mulkey wasn't fighting fires, he volunteered as an assistant basketball and football coach for Summerville High.

Only two funerals remain. Melvin Champaign will be laid to rest Monday in Charleston, while Mark Kelsey's funeral will be Tuesday in Washington, Ind.

Friends and fellow firefighters remembered French as fighting fires before he could drive, The Post and Courier of Charleston reported.

When the alarm at the volunteer station in Berkeley County sounded, French's mother would drive him to the station so he could climb on the truck.

Mourners said French was so dedicated to his job that when he wasn't being paid to fight fires, he volunteered for rural fire departments in the county he grew up in.

French had worked in Charleston for only about 18 months after years as a volunteer firefighter. He was an assistant engineer, who sometimes drove the fire trucks.

Thomas remembered seeing French surrounded by his family after he graduated from the Charleston department's two-week recruiting class. The chief called it ``the best day of Mikey French's entire life.''

After a short graveside service, a radio dispatcher said French's name and then added, ``May he rest in peace.''