Charleston Fire Department lends support to grieving Columbia firefighters

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Charleston's Fire Department is lending its support to Columbia's firefighters as they deal with a tragedy.

Saturday, 23-year-old Columbia firefighter Chance Zobel was hit by a car while responding to a brush fire on the interstate. Also, Firefighter 30-year-old Larry Irvin was severely injured in that accident. Officials say he is in critical condition but Monday said he was showing signs of recovery.

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Zobel had been on the job nearly a year. His sudden death is leaving a department in shock and pain as they deal with the loss.

"This is a brother hood and when one firefighter hurt, all firefighters hurt," Columbia's Interim Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins said Sunday during a press conference.

That brotherhood extending its way to Charleston. Members of the city's firefighter support team headed to Columbia Saturday. The team was created after the Sofa Super Store fire. Members of that team counsel those in grief.

Among those members to visit Columbia Saturday, Bill Haigler, team member and President of Charleston Local 61, the Charleston chapter of the firefighter union.

"They could not say 'thank you' enough and we kept reiterating, 'look you don't have to thank us, we're here for support, we're here to help'," Haigler said.

Members of the team counseled the mourning firefighters in several stations around Columbia.

"We know their pain, we know their anger. We know their feelings they are going through right now. So it was one of those things that we could walk in and we weren't a familiar face but at the same time we were."

Fire department officials say they'll be sending firefighters to Columbia to cover the shifts of those firefighters who attend the memorial service on Wednesday. Members of Charleston Firefighter Support team are likely to remain in Columbia throughout the week.

(This story courtesy WCIV and

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