PORTERVILLE, Calif. (KFSN/CNN/AP) - Police have arrested two 13-year-old boys suspected of starting a fire at a California public library that killed two firefighters.
Porterville Police Chief Eric Kroutil said Wednesday the two teenagers were arrested in the Tuesday blaze at the Porterville City Library that left both a 35-year-old and a 25-year-old firefighter dead. Kroutil says the suspects face arson and manslaughter charges.
“It’s sad. It really is. Kids started this fire, and now, some kid doesn’t have his dad. That’s sad,” resident Crystal Fischer said.
The community mourned the loss of 35-year-old Fire Capt. Raymond Figueroa, a father of two, on Wednesday, as the Porterville Fire Department searched for 25-year-old firefighter Patrick Jones, who went missing during the early stages of the fire response.
The fire department announced late Wednesday on Facebook that Jones’ body had been found inside the Porterville City Library building.
“Obviously, the firefighters are all processing everything that’s happened along with the city, the community,” said Capt. Joanna Barr with Tulare County Fire.
Just yards from where his brother, Raymond Figueroa, took his final breath, Zach Figueroa and Saidee Espinoza, paid tribute to the fallen fire captain.
“He was not just my hero. He was everybody else’s hero,” Zach Figueroa said. “To the city of Porterville, to the city of Delano, my family, his friends – he was everyone’s hero.”
The Tulare County District Attorney’s Office says they can’t comment on how they will move forward with the case because the suspects are minors. They are also waiting to receive the official report from investigators.
More than 50 city, county and state firefighters battled the blaze for hours in Porterville, which is over 150 miles north of Los Angeles. A city librarian says staff called 911 when they noticed flames in the children's section of the library.
The library was built in 1953 and did not have sprinklers.