PORTERVILLE, California (KSEE) – Porterville’s City Manager says there were discussions going on for more than 10 years about making improvements to the city’s library. It comes as crews continue to extinguish hot spots and clear debris following Tuesday’s fire.
“A library that was constructed in the 50s and undersized,” said City Manager John Lollis. “We’ve been over a decade in conversation as where to proceed with our library.”
Lollis says the building had been ready for repair for years.
Tuesday’s fire was first spotted shortly after 4 p.m. and it quickly grew too big to contain. One firefighter lost his life and another remains unaccounted for.
“The City of Porterville has identified Raymond Figuroa, 35-years-old, as the firefighter that was killed in the City of Porterville library fire.” said Porterville’s Fire Chief David LaPere. “Captain Figuroa started his career with Porterville City in 2007.”
Chief LaPere choked back tears as he spoke about the loss of a beloved member of his department.
Fire crews worked through the day on Wednesday, searching for another firefighter that was still missing.
“Captain Patrick Jones, 25, has been confirmed still unaccounted for,” said Chief LaPere.
Local residents gathered around the blocked-off area and watched the fire unfold in disbelief. Officials say the roof caved-in, making the building unsafe to enter.
In a statement, California Governor Gavin Newsom describes the incident as a tragic loss of two of Porterville’s finest firefighters.
“To their family, friends, and colleagues, we stand with you during this difficult time, and honor Captain Figueroa and Firefighter Jones for their bravery, service, and sacrifice.”Governor Gavin Newsom
In honor of Captain Figueroa and Firefighter Jones, flags at the Capitol will be flown at half-staff.
Two 13-year-old boys were arrested in connection to the fire. They have been charged with manslaughter, arson, and conspiracy.