INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Task Force 1 is deploying to Maui, Hawaii, to lend support to the deadly wildfires that have killed more than a hundred people so far.
IN-TF1 received their activation orders Tuesday as a Type 1 Urban Search and Rescue team of 70 personnel. It’s uncertain when the teams will be deployed as they have been working to secure flights.
However, the group has been busy packing equipment and gear ahead of their trip.
“Basically we have to be totally self-sustained,” said Jay Settergren who will be Task Force Leader once the group is deployed in Maui. “We don’t want to be a burden on the community that we’re going in to help. We have tents we can set up with cots and we’ll be able to take care of ourselves that way we’re not displacing anybody that would need a hotel or that type of thing.”
The group will consist of a wide variety of people, including trauma doctors, nurses, structural engineers and firefighters.
Settergren said the group will conduct very methodical searches in areas that have already been charred by the wildfires.
“Basically we’re completing all the searches in all those structures for all the missing folks that they have been looking for for the last few days,” he said.
Team Members on this deployment represent the following agencies:
- Indianapolis Fire Department
- Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department
- Wayne Township Fire Department
- Whitestown Fire Department
- Sugar Creek Fire Department
- Bargersville Fire Department
- Danville Fire Department
- Lafayette Fire Department
- Plainfield Fire Department
- Brownsburg Fire Territory
- Speedway Fire Department
- Greenwood Fire Department
- Zionsville Fire Department
- Westfield Fire Department
- Carmel Fire Department
- Noblesville Fire Department
As of Tuesday evening, the death toll in the Maui wildfires has risen to 106, a week after the flames started sweeping through parts of the Hawaiian island.
One week after the wildfire started, officials say that remains continue to be found. The Maui wildfire is now the deadliest in the U.S. in more than a century, and just one-third of the hardest-hit areas have been searched by teams with cadaver dogs.
Task Force 1 has also already sent a cadaver dog to Hawaii to help with the efforts. As the rest of the group being deployed waits for flight logistics to be finalized, Settergren said he knows there may be some physical and emotional challenges ahead.
“We can get injuries working in all these dangerous piles of rubble or debris,” he described. “You’re exposed to heat, all the elements, and all the biproducts that are given off after a product is burned. And then the psychological side of the whole event.”
Settergren said the group will have trained peer professionals along with them to help with these emotional challenges.
Meanwhile, he said he is confident the team will be able to help provide some healing to Hawaiians in need.
“We are trained and ready to go assist in any way we can to try and help complete those searches,” Settergren said.
According to KHON, Maui Police Chief John Pelletier renewed an appeal for families with missing relatives to provide DNA samples. So far, 41 samples have been submitted, the county statement said, and 13 DNA profiles have been obtained from remains.