Local fire crews return after aiding Puerto Rico search-and-rescue efforts

Local firefighters returned from Puerto Rico early Saturday morning after aiding in search-and-rescue efforts at the U.S. territory devastated by Hurricane Maria.

Sacramento’s Urban Search and Rescue California Task Force is made up of about 80 firefighters and rescue staff from local departments who are specially trained to respond to disasters and other emergencies, said Chris Harvey, a spokesman for the Sacramento Fire Department.

Of the task force members, 27 were sent to the U.S. territory, he said. Sixteen city firefighters were sent to the U.S. territory as part of a federal task force.

The group was initially sent to Travis Air Force Base on Sept. 21 before being flown to the island the following Saturday.

“They’re able to search for victims as well as provide humanitarian aid,” Harvey said. “For them to be able to deploy is very satisfying for us, to be able to send our firefighters and help out.”

The local crew returned to Sacramento International Airport early Saturday morning, Harvey said.

The city’s local fire department sponsors the task force, which includes members from agencies such as the Roseville Fire Department, Cosumnes Community Services District and the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, the City of Sacramento website says.

The task force was one of three statewide deployed to Puerto Rico, the California Office of Emergency Services said in a tweet this week. Eight of the country’s 28 Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces are located in California, according to the state agency.

Sacramento’s local task force responded to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001.

Nashelly Chavez: 916-321-1188, @nashellytweets

Related stories from Sacramento Bee