Photos posted to Facebook show smiling cleanup workers in hard hats sitting in the burned remains of a destroyed recreational vehicle, hopping inside a scorched trampoline frame and posing for other joking shots amid the ruins of the Camp Fire in Paradise, California.
One shows a beer bottle by the mouth of a house cat’s burned corpse captioned, “Dude … I was just chilling with my homies, having a couple of cold ones, and BAM .. damn fire breaks out.”
A San Leandro construction firm announced Saturday on Facebook that the three employees involved in the “abhorrent” photos have been fired.
“Bigge regrets that the residents of Paradise and Butte County have suffered an egregious insult during an already (devastating) time at the hands of these three individuals,” wrote Bigge Crane and Rigging in the post.
Town leaders in Paradise had earlier reposted some of the photos to their own Facebook page, calling them “unacceptable and reprehensible.”
Reactions to the photos in comments on the town’s post ranged from outrage and calls for the workers to be fired to claims that critics were over-reacting.
The Camp Fire, which ignited Nov. 8, burned 239 square miles and killed 85 people. The blaze, which destroyed most of the town of Paradise, ranks as the deadliest and most destructive in California history.
Bigge Crane and Engineering had been hired by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to assist with cleanup work following the blaze, reported KPIX.
The photos posted by workers to Facebook included one of a crane felling a dead tree, but mostly involved workers clowning around in the debris — such as one of a worker sitting with a scorched clay pot on his head beside a blackened stone wall. Another shows a grinning worker “riding” a mailbox designed to resemble a fire truck.
The photo of two workers smiling sitting in the frame of a burned-out RV bears the caption, “They’re off on a fun-filled vacation to unknown destinations in their new RV.”
“It’s shocking,” said Officer Matt Gates, spokesperson for the Paradise Police Department, reported The Redding Record-Searchlight. “It’s disheartening. It’s the type of thing no one needs to see right before they come into town.”
The last Camp Fire-related evacuation orders were lifted Saturday, according to the publication.
The fired workers also may face criminal charges, Gates said, reported the Record-Searchlight. Police are investigating and will consult with the county District Attorney’s office. The workers could be charged with violating an evacuation order, since they were not conducting approved cleanup work while taking the photos, Gates said.
On Monday, PG&E announced it had terminated a contract with Bigge Crane and Rigging to assist with the Camp Fire cleanup, reported The Associated Press.