Firefighters from Los Angeles and Orange counties were being dispatched Monday night to help with rescue operations in Oklahoma, where a massive tornado left at least 51 people dead and many others injured.
Two members of the Los Angeles Fire Department's command staff were being sent to work with federal officials as part of command team, the agency said in a statement.
A firefighter who is a licensed paramedic with the Orange County Fire Authority was also en route to Oklahoma as part of an incident support team, an agency spokesman said. The team includes includes firefighters from several California fire departments.
Fire officials said that more Southern California rescuers may be needed, depending on how the situation unfolds Tuesday.
"We've alerted everybody to prepare and be ready," Capt. Jon Muir of the Orange County Fire Authority told The Times. "This is what we train for."
Rescue operations were underway Monday night in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, where the mile-wide tornado bore down with 200-mph winds.
Responders included police and firefighters from across Oklahoma, as well as members of the National Guard, officials said. The search-and-rescue operation was expected to continue throughout the night.
The tornado left residents in shock and flattened entire neighborhoods, which were turned into huge piles of rubble.
“We have got massive devastation in the community of Moore. Homes, schools and a hospital have been hit,” said Terri Watkins, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. “Responders are out there responding to people trapped under debris. They’re still out actively doing this operation.”