A series of photos showing clean-up workers joke around on charred properties in Paradise, California, provoked wide criticism on social media, resulting in the company firing three employees over the incident last weekend.
The photos were posted on Facebook by a crane operator named Rob Freestone, who was from the Bigge Crane and Rigging Co., a crane sales and rental company. Freestone was assigned to perform clean-up duties in the burned area due to the Camp Fire, according to the Daily Mail.
The fire, which started on Nov. 8, effectively wiped out the whole town of Paradise with almost all of the 27,000 residences destroyed and at least 38 killed in the town.
One photo posted on Dec. 9 pictures Freestone sitting on a mailbox that looks like a fire truck with burned trees and vegetations in the background. He wrote, “I got to ride on a fire truck today.”
Another one posted by Freestone shows two people with safety vests sitting in a burned out motorhome. “They’re off on a fun filled vacation to unknown destinations in their new RV,” wrote Freestone.
Among all the photos from Freestone’s Facebook account, the one showing a burned dead animal lying on the ground with a beer bottle placed up to its mouth received the most severe criticism. The picture reads “Dude… I was just chilling with my homies, having a couple of cold ones, and BAM… damn fire breaks out.”
Facebook account Town of Paradise reposted Freestone’s photos and said Freestone’s behavior is “unacceptable and reprehensible.”
“Town leadership has contacted this subject’s employer and he will no longer be working in our Town,” wrote Town of Paradise on Dec. 15. “The Paradise Police Department is looking into criminal charges.”
A spokesperson with the Paradise Police Department told Fox News on Dec. 16 that officials had started a criminal investigation on this incident with consulting from the Butte County District Attorney’s Office.
On the same day, the company who employed Freestone said that three workers involved in the incident were fired, including Freestone.
“The behavior of these individuals is not consistent with our company values and ethical code,” according to a statement from the company’s Facebook account. “Bigge regrets that the residents of Paradise and Butte County have suffered an egregious insult during an already devasting time at the hands of these three individuals.”
PG&E is facing several lawsuits alleging that the mechanical failure of a component on a power transmission tower resulting from the company’s poor maintenance was the cause of the Camp Fire.
The company released a report on Dec. 11 confirming that several signs of damage including a broken hook, a flash mark, and bullet holes were found on its equipment in the vicinity of where the fire started.
The Camp Fire charred more than 150,000 acres by the time it was finally extinguished on Dec. 6. The fire consumed nearly 14,000 residences in addition to some 4,800 other buildings, and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate.
The blaze is the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history. It killed 85 people, mostly the elderly and the disabled, and injured 3 firefighters.