Procession honors Andrew Pontious, the Los Angeles County firefighter who died in Littlerock explosion

Procession honors Andrew Pontious, the Los Angeles County firefighter who died in Littlerock explosion
Procession honors Andrew Pontious, the Los Angeles County firefighter who died in Littlerock explosion

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Firefighters from Los Angeles county and city departments, and other public safety agencies, formed a procession Wednesday to transport a county firefighter to his final resting place after he died when part of a burning front-end loader. exploded in a quarry at Littlerock.

Andrew Pontious, 52, a veteran firefighter with 19 years of experience, died around 2 p.m. Friday in the explosion at a quarry located in the 7300 block of Pearblossom Highway.

Pontious leaves behind a wife, Kim; his stepdaughter, Sara; parents Gary and Ellie; his brother David, a former county fire department captain; and an extended family.

On Wednesday morning, firefighters from Los Angeles county and city departments joined firefighters from West Covina and Alhambra departments and other public safety agencies in a procession to transport Pontious’s body from the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office to Forest Lawn-Covina Hills Cemetery.

Pontious also served the communities of El Monte, Rosemead and San Fernando during his career, according to the county fire department.

Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered flags at the state Capitol to fly at half-staff in honor of Pontious.

“His service protecting the Los Angeles community will never be forgotten,” the governor said in a statement a day after the tragedy.

Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Anthony Marrone said that shortly after crews arrived at the quarry on Friday, around 2:10 p.m. — an explosion occurred that killed Pontious and injured to a second firefighter.

On Friday night, a procession of first responders escorted Pontious’ body from the quarry to the medical examiner’s office in Boyle Heights.

The second firefighter, who has not been identified, was treated at Antelope Valley Medical Center and released, Marrone said.

The front-end loader continued to burn after the explosion, sending thick black smoke into the air.

Firefighters stayed away from the equipment, which was on an isolated dirt area and posed no danger of the flames spreading to other vehicles. Crews kept a hose on the vehicle and most of the flames were extinguished by early afternoon.

“I don’t know how the fire started and I don’t know what exploded,” Marrone said at the time, noting that a thorough investigation will take place.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide and arson investigators are overseeing the investigation.

Marrone said Pontious was assigned to Palmdale and described him as a “wonderful man. He was married. He’s a father. It’s a great tragedy.”

Pontious was known for his exemplary work ethic, unwavering positive disposition and genuine love of helping people, department officials said.

New firefighters could always count on him for guidance and mentorship, the department said. When the new battalion chiefs arrived, he was the first to give them a tour on their first day.

Pontious was also a talented cook who often volunteered even when it wasn’t on his schedule. Known affectionately as “Uncle,” Pontious was said to enjoy spending time with his family, hunting and studying wildlife. His passion for wildlife conservation was well known among colleagues and friends.

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