(CNN) -- The city of Charleston, South Carolina, is mourning the loss of nine firefighters killed inside a burning furniture store in the nation's worst single loss of firefighters since September 11, 2001.
CNN.com asked readers to share their tributes and memories of the fallen firefighters. Below is a selection of their responses, some of which have been edited for length and clarity:
Karen Mahon of Pelzer, South Carolina
Capt. [Louis] Mulkey was very involved with burned children; this is how we met him. At ACBC's Camp Can Do with our son Cameron. Cameron grew to admire and respect Capt. Mulkey and was greatly affected by him. Our son is grown now and is about to become a paramedic, a career path he choose due to the inspiration of so many of the Charleston firefighters that he came to know, love and respect. Our prayers go out to all the families and firefighters. God grant you peace in this difficult time.
George Floyd of Richmond, Virginia
My prayers and thoughts are with all of you in this time of sorrow. Know that God is here to help you with your pain and loss. My nephew is a firefighter in North Carolina, and it hits close to home when you have family that puts their life on the line for others. Know that the nation is praying for each and everyone of you.
Jerry Thomas of South Beloit, Illinois
I had occasion to meet Billy Hutchinson through the course of my career as a firefighter. He was a wonderful person and a great firefighter. My prayers go out to his family. The city of Charleston has lost a terrific man and firefighter. My prayers and condolences to the families of the other eight as well.
Amy Tomaszewski of Big Bend, Wisconsin
I didn't know any of the firefighters who lost their lives in South Carolina, but I feel their loss. I have grown up being a daughter, sister, sister-in-law and aunt to a family of firefighters and no matter where a tragedy like this occurs, you can't help but feel everyone's pain in your heart. Firefighters are family no matter what city or state they come from. My heartfelt prayers go out to the family and friends of all who knew these very brave men. May God surround you with his arms of love and protection. His tears are falling along with yours. God bless those who perished, those who survived, and all firefighters in the world. I am so sorry.
Charles Jasmin of Winsted, Connecticut
During my many trips to Myrtle Beach, I would head down the coast and visit with the firefighters of Charleston as I do on all my travels. As soon as they saw the Maltese cross on my T-shirt and my FD hat, I immediately became part of the "family." All that comes to mind on this tragedy is "all the flames are in Hell because Heaven is filled with Firefighters."
Cindy McClellan of Charleston, South Carolina
Capt. Mike Benke was one of my good friends. He was there for the birth of my oldest child 27 years ago. His daughter has the same birthday. He was my brother's captain, and we loved him very much. He loved being a fireman, and he was a great one. They were all great firemen.
Michael Dennis of Charleston, South Carolina
My brother-in-law is a captain for the city of Charleston Fire Department. He was on the scene from the start of the blaze. He finally called us at 10 p.m. to say he was OK, but that nine of his fellow firefighters were missing. I knew they were his friends and that his life had just changed forever. I remember after 9/11 how our Charleston Fire Department grieved for FDNY and their families, many traveling to Ground Zero to honor the fallen. I hope that today, our country will remember the city of Charleston Fire Department, the brave men who lost their lives, and their families who are now without husbands and fathers.
Justin Surgeoner of St. Davids, Ontario
On behalf of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Volunteer Fire Department, we send our deepest condolences to the families of our brothers who fell in Charleston. You are in our thoughts and prayers and will never be forgotten. Stay safe and stay low.
Meliss Hall of Richmond, Virginia
I am the wife of a Henrico [County], Virginia, firefighter. My thoughts and prayers go out not only to the firefighters' families but also the firehouse families that worked day in and day out with those who lost their lives. We all know this line of work is dangerous but hope that it never happens. As a firefighter's wife with a family of small children, we know the risks but know there is nothing else he would rather do in life. It's not just the job; it's the bonds they build with each other.
James Zervos of Binghamton, New York
Although we did not work together, our job is as one. To protect people and property. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, your families, brothers and sisters on the job. Your "brothers" from upstate New York. The Binghamton Fire Department. Local 729
William Baty of Knoxville, Tennessee
As a professional firefighter for more than 33 years, I have frequently been exposed to tragedy. That frequency does not, however, convey comfort in the presence of disaster, and the tragic loss of nine firefighters in Charleston amplifies that reality. I am flooded with memories of close calls and near misses, things all firefighters experience over a career, and know that sometimes one's luck just runs out. For the nine brave heroes and their community that mourns them, I extend deepest and profound sympathies along with heartfelt prayers.
Ladder 2, Baldwin Fire Department, New York
Although we are 800 miles away we are at your side. We share in your loss and pray for all of you, the families and loved ones of our fallen brothers. May God bless the Charleston Fire Department.
With deepest regrets,
Your brothers from Ladder 2, Baldwin, New York
Karen Barrett of Charleston, South Carolina
My boyfriend is a fireman for the St. Andrews PSD Fire Department in Charleston. Everyone in this city is devastated by the loss of these men's lives. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these heroes as well as to the brothers that they have left behind.
Dawn Taarud of Cardiff, California
To all those firefighters and their families:
I want to say how sorry I am for your loss. Those and all firefighters go to work every day and do such a selfless job to protect their neighbors. They should be honored and revered for their tireless efforts. I am grateful for their service to their fellow men.