TULARE, California (KGPE) — Fallen firefighter Patrick Jones was remembered by his loved ones on Thursday morning at the Tulare First United Methodist Church.
The church was at full capacity as friends and family paid tribute to the fallen hero.
“It is very difficult,” said Porterville Fire Chief David LaPere. “Grief comes in waves, a colleague told me. It is like a tsunami and it is going to drown you. And then you get a shorter wave and you get on your feet. You start swimming and you just keep going.”
“We kind of put on that emotional shield,” said Clovis Fire Chief John Binaski. “Sometimes these are the events that break it down. I personally cried and I can’t tell you the last time that I cried in 20 years. So it does break down those personal emotional barriers.”
The celebration of Jones’s life started with a poem from his sister.
In one portion it read.
“That night we couldn’t save you, little brother. Although I wish we could’ve tried. Now you’re not here because of that tragic night.”
Jones passed away while fighting a fire at the Porterville Public Library.
Jim Jones, a father to one of Patrick’s fellow firefighters, devastated that Jones couldn’t be saved after the roof of the library collapsed.
“I know it ate them up,” said Jim. “A lot of the city was out there. All they could do was stand in the Bank of America parking lot and watch.”
Later in the ceremony, Gary Pena, the father of the Jones’s fiancé, described him as a protector that loved many things especially his soon to be wife.
Family, friends, and colleagues continue to struggle with accepting that the kind-hearted, fearless leader is gone.