Irmo firefighter dies after fighting Columbia apartment fire, 6 other firefighters injured

Published: May. 26, 2023 at 5:00 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Richland County Coroner Naida Rutherford announced an Irmo firefighter died in the line of duty after fighting an apartment fire in Columbia.

Rutherford said James Muller, 25, a firefighter with the Irmo Fire District (IFD), was taken to Prisma Health Richland where he was pronounced dead from his injuries in the fire.

Authorities said Muller died after being trapped inside the apartment, which collapsed during the fire.

IFD posted on their website Muller is a Driver and Operator who recently graduated from the Officer Academy in March.

Soda City Training — an organization that, according to their website, conducts training with fire, EMS and other high-performance agencies — posted a tribute to Muller on Facebook.

The post said in part, “It is with teary eyes and a heavy heart we announce the Line Of Duty Death of our brother, our friend, one of our instructors, but most importantly, one of the most caring husband, father, and fireman.”

It went on to say “he was one of the best,” and they asked for prayers for his family and those involved. The post included photos of Muller in his firefighter gear.

Crews from Columbia-Richland Fire Department responded to the fire at Tropical Ridge Apartments off of Stoneridge Drive on Friday afternoon.

Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins said the fire — which was eventually declared a 3-alarm fire — became so strong the firefighters had to call for a mayday. That means that they had to pull all their firefighters out of the structure.

According to Jenkins, at one point 60 firefighters were on the scene. He said multiple firefighters were trapped inside the structure and at least seven firefighters were taken to the hospital.

Jenkins stated two residents were rescued in the fire and taken to the hospital and 19 people have been displaced.

Jenkins also stated two Irmo firefighters were taken by ambulance and one was taken in a fire engine.

This is a developing story. Check back here for updates.

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