Emotions were high Friday, after an unthinkable low.
Hundreds packed Centennial Park to honor the firefighters who gave their lives during the devastating library fire Tuesday.
The Day of Remembrance was for 35-year-old Capt. Ray Figueroa and 25-year-old Patrick Jones. Both men were killed while making sure others were safe.
The crowd gathered at 4:14 p.m. — The exact time the Porterville Library went up in flames days before. Figueroa and Jones died after rushing into the burning building, making sure no one was trapped inside.
“We’re forever changed by this. The community is forever changed by this, and I can’t even put into words or imagine what it’s going to be like moving forward,” Bryan Cogburn a Porterville Battalion Chief said.
Everyone gathered to lean on each other as they take those first steps together. Jones was hired on as a Porterville firefighter in 2017. Figueroa had served since 2007.
“He was there for anybody. Anybody who needed a shoulder to cry on he was there,” Maddy Morton a volunteer firefighter said.
The community’s appreciation for their sacrifices was made clear by the size of the crowd which overflowed the plaza.
“This turnout? It’s really touching,” Mike Bush Sr. a former Tulare County volunteer firefighter said.
The show of support carried on into the night, as people paid their respects at a growing memorial, and heavy hearts became just a little lighter.
“This event really helped us, not get closure, but to help us move forward. We needed it. I think the community needed it as well,” Cogburn said.
A memorial service for both men will be held Friday Feb 28.
The Porterville Fire Department has provided the following information:
“The Porterville Fire Department continues to mourn the loss Fire Captain Ramon “Ray” Figueroa, 35, and Firefighter Patrick Jones, 25, who died in the line of duty.
A joint memorial service for Brothers Figueroa and Jones will be held Friday, February 28, 2020 at the Porterville Church of the Nazarene, 2005 W. Olive, Porterville, CA 93257.
The service will begin at 11:00am.
Uniform personnel are requested to arrive at 9:00 am.
The families have requested dress attire for uniformed personnel to be Department Class A Uniform.
Honor Guard Information: All departmental and local union honor guards are encouraged to participate in the memorial services of Brothers Figueroa and Jones.
Honor guard members should arrive by 7:00am for mandatory practice.
Honor guards from local government agencies wishing to participate in the service, please check the California Fire Foundation web site: https://www.cafirefoundation.org/ For all media inquires please contact the Public Information Officer, Captain Joanne Bear, at 559-624-0628