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Teens Arrested In Fatal Porterville Library Fire That Killed Fireman

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.

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.

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.

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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