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Teens Started Blaze That Killed Two Firefighters In Porterville, Authorities Say

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Porterville Fire Department
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Fire Captain Raymond Figueroa, 35, and firefighter Patrick Jones, 25

After a fire devastated the Porterville Public Library, the city's fire department held a processional Thursday Monring to move the body of one of their own to the Tulare County Coroner. 

25-year-old firefighter Patrick Jones’ body was recovered from the remains of the library Wednesday. He responded to the fire Tuesday afternoon, and wanted to make sure everyone was evacuated. Tulare County Incident Officer Joanne Bear says his peers remember Jones’ dedication.

 

"He always had a smile on his face, he was always there to help. He had a passion for firefighting," says Bear.
 

The massive blaze also took the life of 35-year-old Captain Ramon "Ray" Figueroa.

 

"Both of them, you know, it was their dream job and they loved being a firefighter and continued to improve on their craft and were dedicated to the City of Porterville."

 

Bear says crews are currently working to remove larger debris from the site, like the library’s roof which collapsed in the fire. 

 

Police say the fire was set intentionally, and two 13-year-olds have been booked into the Tulare County Juvenile Detention Facility on related charges of manslaughter, conspiracy and arson. 

 
Figueroa has been with the department since 2007 and Jones since 2017, officials said.  
According to a joint press release from the city’s police and fire departments, officials received information that two young men had run away from the fire immediately after it started. An investigation led to the identification of the two Porterville residents who, police say, started the fire.

"Detectives with our Department began an investigation, even prior to the fire personnel determining whether this fire was accidental or not. Specifically, we wanted to know if these two young men had pertinent information related to this fire," the release said. 

Because the investigation involves juveniles, police say, “no further information regarding the criminal aspect of this fire is being released at this time.”

In a Facebook post Tuesday night, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said the Porterville City Fire Department “lost two brave men” in the fire.

 

“The city of Porterville mourns their loss, and we as a community grieve with them and their families,” he wrote. “God bless them all.”

This story has been updated

Laura Tsutsui was a reporter and producer for Valley Public Radio. She joined the station in 2017 as a news intern, and later worked as a production assistant and weekend host. Laura covered local issues ranging from politics to housing, and produced the weekly news program Valley Edition. She left the station in November 2020.