DELANO, Calif. (KGET) – Since Raymond Figueroa’s passing his family says they’ve received overwhelming support from the community and that showed Monday as hundreds filled St. Mary’s church in Delano in honor of him.
Figueroa, alongside fellow firefighter Patrick Jones, died fighting a fire at the Porterville public library last week. The men were trapped inside while searching for possible survivors.
“He was always putting everyone before himself,” said his cousin Richard Mendoza. “As far as I remember, he’s always been there for everyone. He loves everyone. Even if he didn’t know you, he always lends out a helping hand.”
Mendoza remembers clearly the moment he learned of his passing.
“It’s like a part of you falls apart for a bit and you just try to grasp the situation,” said Mendoza. “It’s something that doesn’t set in until a few days after. You realize that the person you knew is now officially gone and it’s really hard.”
But he says the tragedy has brought the family together.
“He’s not with us anymore, but at least he’s another angel above to help watch over us,” said Mendoza.
And the entire community too.
“The amount of support that we’re getting, not only from Porterville but from Delano and surrounding communities, it’s just been amazing,” said Tulare Fire Captain Joanne Bar. “No words can describe the amount of support that everyone has received.”
Captain Figueroa was loved by many for his selflessness, strength, and bravery, something his cousin says will become his legacy.
“If I saw him one last time, I would tell him ‘thank you’ because he’s taught me to never be afraid,” said Mendoza. “He wasn’t afraid to do what he did. He’s a hero.”
A funeral mass will be held Tuesday morning at 10 at St Mary’s of the Miraculous Medal Parish. Following the mass, Captain Figueroa will be laid to rest at the North Kern Cemetery District.
A series of road closures will be in effect near the church and cemetery between 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.