PORTERVILLE, California (KSEE) – One firefighter has been killed, and another is unaccounted for, after a fire at the Porterville library, according to Tulare County Fire.
The deceased crew-member has not been identified, but officials say they were a member of Porterville Fire Department.
Tuesday’s blaze broke out shortly after 4 p.m. at the intersection of Thurman and Main Street. Crews on the scene quickly called a two-alarm fire. The blaze is just yards away from Porterville Fire Department.
“It’s heart-wrenching,” said library worker Tameran Anzivino. “It’s sad, this is the beloved Porterville city library. It’s the hub of the city and its heartbreaking to see it go down like this.”
Anzivino was inside the library when the fire started and moved quickly to ensure everyone inside quickly got to safety.
“It’s heartbreaking to see a landmark go down like that,” said witness Clara Rojas. “It’s impacting on everyone, I think.”
Porterville Police Chief Eric Kroutil said the department will be working to establish if there are any criminal aspects to the fire.
“If it was intentionally caused and if so what criminal acts were included. Of course, this has taxed a lot of our resources, a lot of our officers, and our investigative units are out there. [Tulare County] Sheriff Mike Boudreaux has given us full support with his office and his office is also helping us with this investigation.”
Video sent to YourCentralValley.com by Naji Abdullah shows flames and clouds of black and gray smoke coming from the windows. Officials say the library was built in 1953 and did not have a sprinkler system installed.
The incident remains under investigation.