A large fire reportedly broke out around 1600 hours PST on Tuesday afternoon at the Porterville Public Library, located at 41 West Thurman Avenue in Porterville, California.
It was reported that a blazing fire started in a section of books which began to engulf the 1950’s un-sprinklered systems building. Quick-thinking and fast-acting Librarians called the nearby Fire Department to report flames on the interior of the structure and evacuated all persons outside.
Once the local City Deparment was on-scene, they immediately called for a 2nd-alarm and neighboring Fire agencies from Tulare County, CAL CIFRE, Tulare City and Fresno County responded. Imperial Ambulance also was on-scene.
Fire Behavior was described as intense, difficult to contain the flames due to the fire fuels inside the building. It was full of books and anything else that was considered unstoppable by the flame’s path.
From some scanner feed, it was stated by firefighters on the interior, thought they were in the basement when they were on the second floor. A May Day went out for missing Fire Captain 71 and Firefighter 71. The Captain was located but after extensive searches by multiple firefighters from various Agencies, the missing Firefighter is still being reported as being unaccounted for. Firefighters are still searching for him.
The fire has been determined by both Fire Marshal’s Office and the Police Department as arson. Two 13-year old suspects were reported as being seen running from the building right after the fire started just after 1600 hours PST.
They have been arrested and are being charged with manslaughter, arson and conspiracy. Because they are now in the juvenile detention system, it is unknown if they will be charged as minors or as adults. The investigation continues on.
Because this is an active investigation, there has been further additional information released.
Quick thinking and highly trained Librarians reported flames inside the building, called the Fire Department and made sure all persons made it outside the structure safely and securely. They saved many lives yesterday.
We will never forget those who risked their lives to put out the flames during this intensified incident, the sacrifices they made and working to save the lives and property for all those involved.
We will remember their Legacy, their impacts on their Communities and their Families.
Fire Captain Raymond “Ray” Figueroa, 35, was killed in the fire. He started his dream job in the Fire Service in 2007. He was a resident of the Bakersfield, California community.
A second first responder, Firefighter Patrick Jones, 25, has been confirmed as still missing. He started his career with the Fire Department in 2017.
HOW TO HELP
If you would like to support the PFD familly and members, please visit the TCDSA.net. If you wish to donate, you can click the Portervile Fire Patch and it will redirect you to a link to donate.
Or, if you wish to send a sympathy card or cards of support, you can address it to: Porterville FD, 298 N. Main Street, Porterville, CA 93257.
The PFD would like to remind those that no “official” Go Fund Me accounts or pages have been officially created.
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We send our sincere sympathies to both Firefighter Families, their Loved Ones, to the Porterville Fire Department Family and Fire Family members touched by this fire incident and to the Communities that have been impacted. We are grieving alongside you all. – Ed.
(c) 2020 NW Fire Blog – Updated 2100 hours PST