According to the Porterville Police Department, two 13-year old boys have been arrested in connection to a fire that killed a Porterville Fire Department captain who had graduated from Delano High School and had recently moved back to Bakersfield.
When crews arrived at the Porterville Library on Tuesday afternoon they found smoke and fire coming from the building. A second alarm was initiated at 4:17 p.m. and additional units from Tulare County Fire Department, Tulare City Fire Department, Fresno County Fire, and Cal Fire arrived. A total of 16 pieces of equipment were used to battle the blaze and 55 firefighters were on scene.
The Porterville Police Department determined that the fire was intentionally set by two 13-year-old Porterville residents. The two juveniles were arrested and booked into the Tulare County Juvenile Detention facility.
Tulare County Fire officials confirming that 35-year-old Fire Captain Raymond Figueroa with the Porterville Fire Department was killed after crews worked to control the blaze. Figueroa began his career with the department in 2007. According to family and colleagues, Figueroa was originally from Delano and graduated from Delano High School, and recently moved back to Bakersfield.
Firefighter Patrick Jones remains unaccounted for. Jones started his career with the department in 2017.
"Immediately after the fire started, members of the Porterville Police Department and the Porterville Fire Marshall received information that two young men had run away from the library. Our investigation led us to the identification of two 13-year-old Porterville residents who have been determined to have started this fire," explained Porterville Police Chief Eric Kroutil. "Investigators last night located these two juveniles who were booked in the Tulare County Juvenile Justice Facility on charges of arson, manslaughter, and conspiracy. Because this is an active investigation which involves juveniles, we won't be releasing any more information on the investigation at this time."
"Certianly a very trying time for the city," said Porterville City Manager John Wallace. "Buildings can be replaced but the personnel are the life and energy of the city and so it is with heavy hearts and great thought of them today and the continuing operation for their contiinued safety and recovery of firefighter Jones."
The Delano Joint Union High School District issued the following statement:
The Delano Joint Union High School District family was extremely saddened to learn of the passing of former student, Raymond Figueroa, who tragically lost his life while serving and protecting his community as a fire captain in Porterville yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with Raymond’s loved ones during this difficult time.
The Bakersfield Fire Department, which dispatched an engine to the fire, issued the following statement:
The Bakersfield Fire Department extends our deepest condolences to the members of the Porterville Fire Department and their loved ones. A tragic fire in Porterville yesterday resulted in one firefighter fatality, and one missing firefighter. The BFD has sent an engine company to assist with emergency response in Porterville, and our Chief Staff is in communication with the Chief Staff in Porterville regarding providing further assistance.