One firefighter was killed and another was unaccounted for after a blaze at a Central Valley library, according to KTLA sister station KGPE/KSEE in Fresno.
The flames broke out shortly after 4 p.m. at the public library in Porterville, an agricultural community between Fresno and Bakersfield, Tulare County fire officials said.
Staff called 911 when they noticed flames in the children’s section of the library, which has about 77,000 books, city librarian Vikki Cervantes told the Visalia Times-Delta.
Flames shot through the roof of the library, and crews on scene quickly called a two-alarm fire. The location is just yards away from Porterville Fire Department.
Cellphone video from a bystander shows flames and clouds of black and gray smoke coming from the windows. The library was built in 1953 and it did not have a sprinkler system installed, authorities said.
More than 50 state, county and city crews continued to battle the stubborn blaze hours later.
The deceased firefighter has not been identified, but officials say he or she were a member of Porterville Fire Department.
Porterville Police Chief Eric Kroutil said the department was looking into whether the blaze could have been intentionally set.
“Of course, this has taxed a lot of our resources, a lot of our officers, and our investigative units are out there,” Kroutil said. “(Tulare County) Sheriff Mike Boudreaux has given us full support with his office and his office is also helping us with this investigation.”
There was no immediate word on how the firefighter died or what caused the fire.
One Library employee told me she saw the flames on the side of the building, immediately called 911,and started evacuating people out of the building. Fire crews are still trying to get the flames under control.@CBS47 @KSEE24 pic.twitter.com/r2As9800YG
— Mederios Babb (@mederiosbabb) February 19, 2020
— Kirsten Mitchell (@Kirsten_TV) February 19, 2020