RIVERSIDE – A team of Riverside firefighters working to find victims of the deadly mudslide in Washington state was joined today by a senior fire official, who will be coordinating logistical operations.
“It’s a little busy up here; I just arrived,” Division Chief Lawayne Hearn told City News Service about 3 p.m. “Hopefully there’ll be some information to share later.”
Hearn deployed to Snohomish County, Wash., in support of California Task Force 6, which was activated two days after the March 22 natural disaster just east of Oso, Wash., a community of less than 200 located roughly 50 miles north of Seattle.
Task Force 6 specializes in urban search and rescue, utilizing the expertise of firefighters, paramedics, emergency room physicians, structural engineers, rescue dogs, heavy equipment operators and hazardous materials technicians.
The Riverside Fire Department is the principal agency in the task force, which also boasts a complement of crews from the Corona, Hemet, Murrieta and Riverside County fire departments.
Eight Riverside firefighters traveled to Oso after part of a hillside collapsed and buried homes adjacent to the Stillaguamish River. Thirty people are confirmed dead, while at least 15 remain missing, according to reports.
Rescuers are digging and sifting through debris day and night.
Hearn said he will be working directly with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s on-site Incident Support Team, providing ”command, coordination and logistical support to agencies at the scene.”