UPDATE: The Porterville Police Department asks anyone who was inside the Porterville Public Library on Feb. 18 from 3:15 p.m. up until the fire started, and have not been contacted by police, to call Detective Mark Lightfoot at (559) 782-7556 or (559) 782-7400.
DELANO, Calif. (KGET) – Hundreds of family, friends and fellow first responders gathered in Delano today to honor fallen firefighter, Raymond Figueroa.
Although it was a somber morning, the love and support for Figueroa were obvious. St. Mary’s Church was packed to capacity, with an overflow crowd outside.
“He was one of those hard-chargers, very honest, as we all are,” said Tulare County Fire Chief Charlie Norman. “But he was just one of those energetic people, always going above and beyond to always help people. no sacrifice was too big.”
On the afternoon of February 18, Figueroa lost his life alongside firefighter Patrick Jones fighting a fire at the Porterville Public Library. The men were trapped inside while searching for possible survivors.
“I think he’s beyond a hero,” said Ruben Aquino, Figuero’s uncle. “I think he went in there fearless, without a doubt in his mind that he could go save that person, no matter who they were. That’s the type of person he was. To him going and saving people’s lives meant a lot to him and it was proved that’s why all these people came here to support him.”
Hundreds of family, friends and first responders lined the streets as Figueroa’s body arrived at the church. At least a dozen agencies were represented – some from out of state.
“There were firefighters here from texas and words can’t describe what that means,” said Tommy Tunson, a family friend of Figueroa’s.
The true meaning of brotherhood with a sea of blue was demonstrated.
“I want the community to know that he’s a hero,” said Norman. “Everything that we have in this area is a brotherhood. Anytime one of our firefighters gets injured, it affects all of us. We are a very tight-knit community.”
Following the funeral mass, Figueroa was laid to rest at North Kern Cemetery.
Many first responders wore mourning bands over their badges with the names of Raymond Figueroa and Patrick Jones on them. They plan to keep them on until April 14, in honor of the time both men passed away: 4:14.