Fallen Porterville firefighters honored one year after tragedy

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Two firefighting brothers were reunited on Thursday.

The urn containing Patrick Jones' remains was placed next to Raymond Figueroa's final resting place at North Kern Cemetery in Delano.

One year after their deaths in the Porterville Library fire, a close bond has formed between the families of the fallen firefighters, and they continue to grieve.

"Sometimes it feels like it didn't happen," said Ray's father Ramon Figueroa. "I'm still waiting for him to walk through the front door."

"You know losing a family member is one thing, truthfully," said John Jones, father of Patrick. "Losing a child is something completely different."

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One year after their deaths in the Porterville Library fire, a close bond has formed between the families of the fallen firefighters, and they continue to grieve.



COVID-19 prevented family, friends, and firefighters from celebrating the life of Patrick and Ray in a traditional format.

"They deserve a lot more than we can give them, honestly, this year," John said. "They made the ultimate sacrifice for their community, and there's a lot of people that wouldn't do that. Most people are running away, those kids were running towards it."

In lieu of an in-person memorial service, the Porterville Fire Department shared a powerful video on its Facebook page, produced by students from the Summit Charter Collegiate Academy.

During the touching tribute, Ramon Figueroa presented two shields to Porterville Fire Chief Dave LaPere.

They now hang high at the department's training facility.

"And they will serve as a beacon to other firefighters of Ray and Patrick's commitment to training and provide a legacy for them to look at always," LaPere said.

"Some people still will remember when they see them, or people will see and they'll ask," Ramon said. "So at least they'll be told of who they were and what happened to them."

The president of the California State Firefighters' Association shared that Patrick and Ray embodied what it meant to be leaders in their profession.

"We are proud to remember their bravery and ensure their memories live on forever through their story," CSFA President Eddie Sell said. "CSFA is humbled and truly honored to recognize these heroes with the Purple Heart award."

Both men were called to the career of firefighting at a relatively young age.

A teenage Ray was inspired by the many acts of courage he saw on September 11th, 2001.

An eight-year-old Patrick made his commitment after his school received a visit from a Visalia fire crew.

In Porterville, both men were highly skilled and well-respected.

"Patrick's bravery to trust his Captain is admired, and Ray's bravery to urgently respond to a potential victim is true to his nature," LaPere said.

"He just always said, Mom, it's my job. I got it,'" said Sandra Jones, Patrick's mother. "'Don't worry.' So you didn't."

Thursday also marked the start of a new tradition for the Porterville Fire Department.

Every February 18th, firefighters can wear their hats backwards like Patrick did and will clean and sharpen their axes, Ray's favorite firefighting tool.

It's another way to remember and honor two heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice.
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