PORTERVILLE, California (KGPE) — Thursday the family of fallen firefighter Ray Figueroa reflected on the moment they got a call from the Porterville Fire Department that their son had died.
“There had been a fatality involving a Porterville Fire Captain. I had a feeling it was going to be him,” said Ray’s father Ramon Figueroa.
Ramon immediately traveled from Bakersfield to Porterville to say his final goodbyes. He continues to grieve his loss but said he is proud of his son’s courageous actions.
“I always told him, when you start becoming a leader you have to earn respect, not demand it,” said Ramon as he started crying. “You have to earn it, and when you earn it your troops will follow you. Follow you to the end.”
His son, 35-year-old Porterville Firefighter Ray Figueroa, died on Tuesday night after he rushed into the Porterville Public Library fire to make sure no one was inside.
“It is very taxing on all of us,” said Porterville Fire Chief David LaPere. “I have been up about 45 hours now, with very little food. It is hard to eat. I am sure my staff is at the same point and so are the firefighters that have been working for me.”
Twenty-five year old Patrick Jones went missing in the fire. On Wednesday, after a full day of searching, his body was found.
Early Thursday morning, hundreds of local first responders paid tribute to Jones as they walked side by side in a precession to the coroner’s office.
Behind them, a Porterville Ladder Truck and a gleaming American Flag.
“It was hard to watch and I was glad I was able to come out to honor him,” said viewer Suzanne McQueen.
There will be a public memorial for the fallen heroes scheduled for 4:14 p.m. on Friday.