Authorities believe the blaze, which claimed the lives of Raymond Figueroa and Patrick Jones, was intentionally set by two teens.
BRIAN JOHNSON: On Friday, a multi-agency Serious Accident Review Team, or SART for short, presented their findings and recommendations related to the inferno at the Porterville Library on February 18, 2020. Authorities believe the blaze, which claimed the lives of Raymond Figueroa and Patrick Jones, was intentionally set by two teens. While the SART report notes that the case is still pending in court, its primary focus was to explore the contributing factors in the incident.
DAVE LAPERE: We have faith that the SART and its recommendations and its findings will lead to a road map of recovery not only for the Porterville Fire Department, but for the entire fire service.
BRIAN JOHNSON: Mike Krause was the SART chairman. He's a retired fire chief with the city of Modesto and was a member of the SART that investigated the 2015 fire that left Fresno Fire Captain Pete Dern with severe burns. For the Porterville report, Krause and a small team spent hundreds of hours reviewing video and audio of the incident, researching laws and industry standards and interviewing members of the Porterville Fire Department.
MIKE KRAUSE: That's where the rubber hits the road-- the recollection of each firefighter that was there, from their responsibility on the scene. That's usually what puts the pieces together for us.
BRIAN JOHNSON: The SART report lists findings and recommendations related to 27 different topics, including the issue of staffing. According to the report, the department did not meet the minimum staffing levels outlined by the National Fire Protection Association. It also says that the city's firefighters-to-residents ratio falls far below the national average. But officials say Porterville City Council is expected to increase staffing levels soon.
MIKE KRAUSE: They actually had a couple of us make the presentation to them. And they-- it appears that they continue to be supportive of that issue of staffing.
DAVE LAPERE: It's a tragic loss for the fire department, the fire service, and the community of Porterville. And that no matter what the SART report says, that the bravery of those individuals on that day stands-- still stands true.
BRIAN JOHNSON: A link to the full report will be available on our website, abc30.com. In Porterville, Brian Johnson, ABC 30, "Action News."