PORTERVILLE (CBS SF) — Two teenagers have been arrested in a fatal fire that heavily damaged the Porterville Library and claimed the life of at least one firefighter with another listed as missing, authorities said.
Porterville Police Chief Eric Kroutil said Wednesday the two 13-year-old boys had been taken into custody on suspicion of starting the fire.READ MORE: COVID Surge: 7 Bay Area Counties Issue Indoor Mask Mandate, Regardless of Vaccination Status
Meanwhile, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux took to Facebook late Tuesday night, announcing that two firefighters had died in the blaze.
“Prayers for the Porterville City Fire Department,” he posted. “They have lost two brave men in a library fire this evening. The city of Porterville mourns their loss and we as a community grieve with them and their families. God bless them all.”
However, fire officials on Wednesday morning had yet to confirmed the second death, saying the second firefighter was missing.READ MORE: San Jose Police Release Video Of Suspect's Car In 2018 Khan Lieu Cold Case Murder
The blaze was reported at about 4:15 p.m. at the Porterville Public library in the San Joaquin Valley, fire officials said.
Library staff members had called 911, reporting flames in the children’s section of the library, which has about 77,000 books, city librarian Vikki Cervantes told the Visalia Times Delta.
Flames shot through the roof of the library, which is located about a block from the local Fire Department.
The 1953 building was deemed historic by the building and there were no sprinklers inside. More than 50 state, county and city crews continued to battle the stubborn blaze hours later.MORE NEWS: Woman's Body Found Following Boating Accident Near Stockton
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