Three workers from a Bay Area construction company have been terminated after one of them posted a series of "abhorrent" staged photos — which showed them mocking the ruins of Paradise, California — on social media. The trio was part of a crew sent to clean up the town in the aftermath of the devastating Camp Fire, but their behavior has now led to a criminal investigation.
What are the details?
The Camp Fire was the deadliest wildfire in California history, killing 86 people last month over a span of 17 days. Most of the dead were disabled or elderly residents who were unable to evacuate before the blaze hit their homes. Paradise was almost entirely destroyed, and has been deemed currently uninhabitable by experts and former residents.
Forensic investigators and archaeologists are still combing through the ashes to try and identify the remains of victims.
Rob Freestone — a crane operator paid by Bigge Crane and Rigging Co. to assist in tree removal — posted pictures on Facebook earlier this month, showing himself and two other workers in staged photos mocking the devastation.
In one photo, a deceased cat is shown with a beer bottle wedged in its mouth with the caption, "Dude...I was just chilling with my homies, having a couple of cold ones, and BAM...damn fire breaks out." Another shows a worker jumping within the shell of a burned-up trampoline, with the message, "Trampolines are stupid. BTW, it used to be called a Jumpoline until your mom got on it."
Officials from the town of Paradise got wind of the photos last week, and posted the series to its own Facebook page, saying, "This is unacceptable and reprehensible behavior. Town leadership has contacted this subject's employer and [Rob Freestone] will no longer be working in our Town. The Paradise police department is looking into criminal charges."
How did the employer respond?
Bigge Crane and Rigging Co. made it clear that such behavior wouldn't be tolerated. The firm quickly removed Freestone from the Camp Fire recovery effort, and within hours said it had "identified three participants in this abhorrent event and their employment has been terminated."