As rescuers searched Wednesday for more than a dozen people missing after mudslides swept away homes in Montecito, a San Diego-based task force and a strike team have been deployed to the area to assist with the efforts.
The SDFD California Task Force 8 canine search and rescue mission ready package team was scheduled to depart Wednesday at 3 p.m. It includes four individuals from San Diego Fire-Rescue Department: a task force leader, search team manager, logistics manager and two canine search specialists.
One of the canine handlers is Capt. Matt Kirk from Heartland Fire & Rescue, according to a spokeswoman for San Diego Fire-Rescue.
The team was requested by authorities in Santa Barbara County earlier Wednesday, the spokeswoman said.
The winter storm that tore through Southern California this week triggered the mudslides in an area ravaged by the deadly Thomas Fire. At least 17 people have been reported killed and 28 injured in the mudslides; hundreds of homes were reported damaged or destroyed.
Several highways in the area remained closed Wednesday. The north-south 101 Freeway, which is the main artery through the area, is scheduled to remain shut until at least Monday.
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