Crews Find Body of 2nd Firefighter Killed in Porterville Library Blaze Allegedly Started by 2 Teens

Local News

Crews have found the remains of a second firefighter killed while battling a blaze at a public library in central California allegedly started by two 13-year-old boys, authorities said.

Porterville Fire Department Capt. Raymond Figueroa, left, and firefighter Patrick Jones appear in photos released by the agency on Feb. 19 2020.
Porterville Fire Department Capt. Raymond Figueroa, left, and firefighter Patrick Jones appear in photos released by the agency on Feb. 19 2020.

The Porterville Fire Department said crews were able to enter the the Porterville Public Library building late Wednesday and found firefighter Patrick Jones’ body.

Jones, 25, and Capt. Raymond Figueroa, 35, were killed Tuesday. Jones’ body was escorted early Thursday by police and fire vehicles from the gutted library to the Tulare County coroner’s office.

The two firefighters were “consummate professionals,” an emotional Porterville Fire Chief Dave LaPere said Thursday.

A “mayday” was called after both men ran into the burning library to make sure all citizens had been able to escape, Tulare County Fire Capt. Joanne Bear said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

LaPere said all the department’s firefighters are off while they deal with their colleagues’s deaths and have been offered counseling services.

Dozens of state, county and city fire crews helped battle the stubborn blaze for hours and have offered their support while the department grieves, he said.

Two 13-year-old boys were arrested on suspicion of starting the blaze after they were seen running from the library shortly after the fire erupted, Porterville Police Chief Eric Kroutil said.

The boys face arson, manslaughter and conspiracy charges. Their names were not released because they are minors. It was not immediately known if they have attorneys who can speak on their behalf.

Kroutil said the boys will be tried as juveniles and because of that he couldn’t discuss a possible motive or any other details about the investigation.

The blaze was reported about 4:15 p.m. Tuesday. Porterville is located 50 miles (79 kilometers) north of Bakersfield in the San Joaquin Valley.

Staff called 911 when they noticed flames in the children’s section of the library, which has about 77,000 books.

Flames shot through the library’s roof, which later collapsed. The library is located about a block from the fire department.

The library was built in 1953 and did not have sprinklers, said Fire Capt. Joanne Bear.

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