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VRFA personnel join landslide recovery efforts

Four members of the Valley Regional Fire Authority have joined recovery efforts in Snohomish County at the site of Saturday's devastating mudslide.

VRFA Battalion Chief Parry Boogard, Capt. Dale Lagginess, and Firefighters Barry Rickert and Jason Herman – along with 70 others – responded to the activation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Washington Task Force 1 search and rescue team.

Member of the task force – which includes more than 180 personnel from 36 different agencies in King and Pierce counties – were activated late Monday night and arrived Tuesday morning to help with recovery efforts.

"They're really hoping to be searching for survivors," Pierce County Department of Emergency Management spokesperson Sheri Badger said. "But we don't know what that is going to look like yet."

As of Wednesday morning, 16 people had been confirmed dead with dozens more missing in the massive slide that engulfed a portion of Highway 530 and the Steelhead Drive neighborhood along the Stillaguamish River, just outside the small community of Oso in Snohomish County on Saturday morning.

Nobody has been found alive at the site since Saturday.

Task force members on scene are expected to do a 10-day shift before being replaced with other members, if they are still needed.

The Washington Task Force 1 (WA-TF1) was established in 1991 and consists of members from 36 agencies from three primary jurisdictions: Seattle Fire; King County; and Pierce County.

The team includes more than 210 members, drawn from a variety of organizations, including fire departments, hospitals, law enforcement and public works agencies in the City of Seattle, and throughout King and Pierce counties.

Canine teams also accompany WA-TF1 members on all deployments.

The task force has participated in emergency efforts at the Oklahoma City bombing, the World Trade Center attacks in 2001 and Hurricane Katrina.

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Donate to victims

The Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management is matching resources and assistance offered with community needs. Call 425-388-5088.

Financial donations can be made at the Red Cross website or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.

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