Deadly Porterville fire: Officials say library had no sprinkler system

PORTERVILLE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Cleanup efforts are underway in downtown Porterville as crews work to pick off the debris from Tuesday night's devastating fire that took the lives of two firefighters and the town's library.

"I don't know where we go from here," says City Manager John Lollis. "It'll be an art as the city council and library board, and our community works together and picking up our bootstraps and where do we go."

It's a two-story, 18,000 square foot library that, according to Lollis, was one of the busiest in the Central Valley - serving other libraries from Kern to Mariposa Counties.

"When you look at the in and out chart, upwards of 100,000 pieces of material had come out of this library to the Central Valley," Lollis said. "The next closest was the Fresno County library system."

The library was built in 1953 and saw many changes over the years, but lacked fire sprinklers that are now required in modern structures. Residents say it was more than just a building with books.

"This is a big part of Porterville," says Shana McGill. "This is a big thing here. And these firefighters, it's just so much."

City officials say they will meet with the 10 full-time library staff members Thursday to devise a plan moving forward.

"In a best-of situation, even if it was to build what is here, is a two to three-year horizon from design to construction, so we need to come up with some intermediate plans to meet the needs of the community," Lollis said.

Before Tuesday's fire, the nearby Porterville Museum was set to hold a special exhibit on the library.

That is still scheduled, and they hope people can come out to show their support.

A link has been provided if you wish to donate to the Porterville Fire Department.
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