Southern California firefighters headed to Texas to help with Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts

Dozens of firefighters across Southern California have been deployed to Texas to help with search and rescue efforts after Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Gulf Coast.

A team of 70 Los Angeles firefighters, 10 members of a support crew and four dogs were activated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deploy to Texas, along with a 15-member Los Angeles County Fire Department swift-water rescue team.

Across southern Texas, officials had yet to learn the full extent of the damage from the Category 4 storm. Emergency responders combed through the debris of collapsed buildings, broken power poles and uprooted palm trees as heavy rain and lashing winds continued to pound the area in what was one of the worst natural disasters in state history.

At least five people were reported dead, according to the National Weather Service in Houston, and authorities expect that number to climb as floodwaters recede.

The Los Angeles firefighters were expected to board buses and leave from a Sherman Oaks fire station Saturday night, said Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart.

FEMA requested the swift-water rescue team about 2 p.m. Sunday.

Within 30 minutes, the crew loaded four hard-bottom boats and two inflatable boats onto a box truck and hit the road for what was expected to be a 20-hour drive to Houston. The team is scheduled to arrive Monday afternoon.

“As soon as they get there they should go straight to work,” said Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Joey Marron.

They’ll probably be going door to door, rescuing residents trapped in their homes and rendering aid to those injured, he said.

A search and rescue task force from the San Diego Fire Department also was activated Saturday night and was preparing to travel to Houston, the department wrote on Facebook.

Another team of firefighters left Irvine for Texas on Friday, the day the hurricane made landfall, according to the Orange County Fire Authority.

The Southern California teams are three of the state’s eight Urban Search and Rescue task forces, which are specially trained to search collapsed buildings and other confined areas after natural disasters and other emergencies.

hailey.branson@latimes.com

Twitter: @haileybranson

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UPDATES:

Aug. 27, 7:50 p.m.: This story was updated with the deployment of a Los Angeles County swift-water rescue team.

This article was originally published on Aug. 26 at 10:45 p.m.

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