Thousands mourn fallen Porterville firefighters at remembrance ceremony

PORTERVILLE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Two Porterville firefighters killed in the line of duty were remembered by thousands of people on Friday afternoon.

It was an emotional day in Porterville as families and firefighters throughout the Central Valley made their way to Centennial park to grieve, many adding their tributes to a growing memorial, while others embraced and listened to the stories and memories.

Captain Ray Figueroa and firefighter Patrick Jones, who lost their lives fighting the deadly blaze that burnt down the city library on Tuesday, will never be forgotten.

RELATED: Porterville firefighters died trying to save others inside burning library

Many brought mementos, flowers, and messages of hope and healing.

Battalion Chief Bryan Cogburn with the Porterville Fire department, along with his fellow firefighter brothers and sisters were at the vigil, embracing as memories were shared throughout the ceremony.

"The grieving process is going to take time... months, years, we'll never fully recover. We're changed. We're leaning on each other and bringing in peer support to help us with this tough time," said Cogburn.

Porterville firefighters won't return to work until Wednesday so they can grieve. The charred library nearby remains a painful reminder of the lives lost.

RELATED: Tulare County loses not just 2 lives, but also a part of its history

"Not only did we lose a lot of history, but the firemen... it's just devastating, devastating. I can't imagine what their families are going through," said resident Donna Spears.

Balloons flew over the memorial filled with candles and flowers and for the Porterville firefighters, the community's support means everything.

"We have a hard time asking for help. We need it. They've been here for us," said Cogburn.
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