Columbia apartment fire that killed Irmo firefighter ruled an accident by detectives
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The cause of a fire at the Tropical Ridge Apartments that trapped an Irmo Fire District firefighter, resulting in the death of James Muller, has been determined by investigators.
Investigators with the Columbia Fire Department said the blaze started due to unattended cooking materials, the blaze began around a stove in a kitchen.
After the May 26 fire, The Columbia Fire Department brought in support from outside agencies to provide support for an investigation into the origin and cause of the fire according to investigators.
The partners included the Columbia Police Department, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), South Carolina State Fire and the S.C. State Fire Marshal’s Office, South Carolina Task Force 1, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Response Team.
“The Columbia Fire Department has and will continue to provide needed information and resources in support of all investigations into what happened on May 26, 2023,” said Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins.
“While it has been determined that this fire was accidental in nature, the impact it caused is no less deep and tragic. Our hearts continue to be with Firefighter Muller’s family and friends, our partners at Irmo Fire District, and all who continue to mourn during this difficult time.” Added Jenkins.
During the fire at the apartments, a part of the structure fell on Muller, trapping him. He was taken to the hospital where he later died due to injuries.
Irmo Fire District Fire Chief Mike Sonefeld spoke about the 25-year-old husband, “James Muller was passionate beyond any firefighter that I ever met or encountered. He was the epitome of what a firefighter should be, should look like, just wrapped in one human being. Just amazing.”
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