CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Today marked 72 years since the Charleston Fire Department lost seven of their crew members in the tragic Woolworth fire.
The City of Charleston joined the Charleston Fire Department and the Charleston Firefighter’s Local Union 317 to honor those seven who died in a special ceremony this morning. The Woolworth Building, located on the corner of Quarrier and Capitol streets caught fire in the early morning hours of March 4, 1949. While battling the blaze, seven firefighters died and at least 15 additional firefighters were injured, two critically.
“These guys paid the ultimate sacrifice for the citizens of Charleston 72 years ago, so it’s good that we, you know, the brotherhood of the fire service remembers the fallen. And it’s good to teach our young firefighters we have here today our traditions and when we’re gone, they’re still continuing our traditions of honoring those who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Myron Boggess, president of the IAFF Local 317.
The fire was the largest casualty count for a fire department on a blaze in the United States at the time. It remains the largest loss of life for the Charleston Fire Department.
The names of those lost firemen were memorialized on a bronze marker that still hangs on the building that now stands at the exact location where those heroes died.