Urban search-and-rescue specialists, including first responders from the Menlo Park and Woodside Fire protection districts, have been sent to Butte County to help find people missing since the outbreak of the Camp Fire.
Menlo Park Fire Protection District Chief Harold Schapelhouman said that 45 members of California Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 3 left Saturday afternoon for a base camp in Oroville. They took 13 vehicles with seven trailers and more than 50,000 pounds of search, rescue and recovery equipment.
The task force is one of 28 such teams in the United States, including eight in California. Along with personnel from the Menlo Park and Woodside districts, the team includes first responders from the Mountain View, Palo Alto and Santa Clara County fire departments, and professionals from Facebook, Genentech and Stanford Research International, Schapelhouman said.
"With (nearly) 1,000 people still missing, the team members know what is potentially ahead of them,” Schapelhouman said in a press release.
The Menlo Park fire district has also sent eight drone pilots to Butte County to capture aerial images of Paradise, Magalia and other parts of the county. Drones flew over Paradise on Friday and Magalia on Sunday.
"These specialized teams can provide high resolution aerial images and maps that will be used for a variety of relief effort purposes," Schapelhouman said in a written statement. "In past disasters, such as the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa and Carr Fire in Redding, the data was made available on the local County law enforcement and City websites for the public to use as a damage overview."
More than 15,000 structures have been destroyed in the Camp Fire, most of which are homes, according to an update from Cal Fire on Monday morning. There have been 77 confirmed deaths and nearly 1,000 people are unaccounted for, the Butte County Sheriff's Office reported Sunday. The fire is now the deadliest and most destructive in state history.
The fire has seared some 151,000 acres and is 66 percent contained.
The task force has been deployed multiple times this year, with assignments in Hawaii in response to hurricanes Olivia and Lane, and in North Carolina in response to Hurricane Florence.