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Irmo community mourns the loss of heroic firefighter James Muller

James Muller was killed while assisting with an apartment complex fire that displaced 19.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Irmo community is just beginning to mourn the tragic loss of James Muller, a courageous 25-year-old firefighter who lost his life while selflessly assisting the Columbia Fire Department in responding to an apartment fire on Friday.

Irmo Mayor Barry Walker said he received a phone call Friday afternoon that he will likely never forget. He was in town on Friday when he was told about the passing of the 25-year-old Irmo firefighter. Muller died while assisting the Columbia Fire Department which was responding to an apartment fire. According to Columbia Fire, Muller was killed following a structure collapse when he was inside the building.

"I'm proud of him, the fact that he was eager to do that, to run into harm’s way to help those people." Walker said. "His end-of-watch was not in vain, his end-of-watch saved 19 families that were in harm’s way."

Walker said his Saturday was spent fielding calls from around the state, with people reaching out and sharing their condolences. On Saturday afternoon, a small memorial was set up outside of the Irmo Fire District headquarters on Saint Andrews Road.

A handful of flowers laid beside the flagpole where the flags were lowered to half-staff.

David Brookins, an Irmo resident who lives close to the fire department, said the tragedy shed light on the risks first responders face on a daily basis.

"It was extra shocking, because we see fire trucks going around all the time, but we don't even think about it," Brookins said. "Unfortunately, we don't think about the danger they put themselves in all the time."

When he heard about Muller's death on Friday, he was shocked to find out how young he was and how selfless his actions were.

"Even at that age, what he put himself in the way of, it’s really tragic," he said. "It's tragic but it's impressive that he did that every day."

Dalen Smith said he was shocked to hear the news and is equally as impressed by Muller's actions.

"He gave his life, he's like a legend, a hero," Smith said. "It's definitely heartbreaking but it's crazy to think he got the job done still in that situation."

News19 briefly spoke with the Irmo Fire Department on Saturday. A spokesperson said the family and Muller's fellow firefighters are still grieving and do not wish to speak on camera. However, they described Muller as a "rockstar" at what he did and said that they miss him greatly.

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