Former Walton County resident dies fighting apartment fire in South Carolina

Photo credit: Irmo Fire Department Facebook page

A South Carolina apartment fire Friday has taken the life of a former Walton County resident who lost his life battling the fire. According to Irmo Fire Department, 7-year-veteran of the Department, Firefighter James Michael Muller, 25, died due to a structural collapse of the building during fire suppression efforts. Fire Engineering reports that in total seven firefighters were injured and 19 people displaced by the fire in Columbia, SC. Muller was the only firefighter to lose his life.

According to Monroe resident Avery Jones, Muller, who went by the name “Jay,” attended Walnut Grove High School.

“He moved to Irmo shortly after and began his career. He leaves behind a wife and young son. He saved lives that day and was headed back in to save more. He was a tremendous young man. He went to Woodlake Baptist Church on Highway 138 and was an active youth group member there. I was his youth group leader,” Jones said. He shared the photos below of Muller during his time at Walnut Grove High School.

Irmo Fire Chief Mike Sonefeld and the Officers and Members of the Irmo Fire District announced the death of the young firefighter on the Facebook page, noting Muller “was a highly respected firefighter that had a love and passion for the job. Firefighter Muller will be greatly missed amongst his firefighting family.”

Tributes continue to pour into the Irmo Fire Department with many praising the young firefighter who had been 2015/2016 Student of the Year at the Lexington Technology Center where he completed the two-year course in one year. He did this while interning at the Irmo Fire Department. Soda City Training, where Muller was an instructor, noted Muller was “one of the best” and shared tributes and photos of his service.

“He recently attempted the GA Smoke Diver program for his second time in Dalton, GA. An elite selection process for firefighters,” Jones added.

More tributes and photos of Muller can be found on the Irmo Facebook page at this link and on Soda City Training at this link.

The Irmo Fire Foundation reported that many have asked about helping the family and noted it is accepting donations on his behalf. Checks can be made out to the Irmo Fire Foundation, and mailed to Irmo Fire Headquarters “in Memory of James Muller.”

Muller, who was the son of Christopher Shawn Muller and Denise Morris Muller, also leaves behind a wife, Emma, and a son, Cole. His funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 31 2023 at Riverland Hills Baptist Church in Irmo, SC. This will not be a black tie affair. His wife wants everyone to wear color attire.

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