More than a dozen California firefighters with specialized rescue skills were being dispatched to the devastating mudslide in northwest Washington, state officials said Monday night.
The 18 firefighters are trained in urban search-and-rescue skills and are experts in using sophisticated equipment to locate missing victims, move huge mounds of rubble and aid in recovery efforts.
Officials in Washington said Monday evening that the death toll near the tiny town of Oso had grown to 14 and that 176 people were missing.
The massive mudslide, about an hour north of Seattle, destroyed 30 homes and left a trail a destruction across Highway 530, officials said.
The rescuers are from the Los Angeles Fire Department, Orange County Fire Authority, Riverside Fire Department, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department and Sacramento Fire Department.
They are part of a regional task force created to assist in major disasters across the United States, the state Office of Emergency Services said. The task force was mobilized after help was requested from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The disaster struck Saturday morning after heavy rain saturated the area. Mud covered an area of about one square mile, California rescue officials said.
“A massive slide like this requires an all-hands-on-deck approach,” Sacramento Fire Chief Dan Haverty said. “We are getting our California personnel and gear to the impacted area as fast as possible.”