Valley search and rescue teams fighting with time in desperate search for mudslide survivors

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27 members from the Clovis, Fresno County, Selma and Tulare fire departments were called in. (KFSN)

You can now add Valley crews to the hundreds of rescuers combing through the devastation in Santa Barbara County.

Twenty-seven members from the Clovis, Fresno County, Selma and Tulare fire departments were called in Wednesday night to lend support in the Montecito mudslides.

"Currently they're responsible for an area that encompasses about 200 homes and is basically covered in mud," said Fresno Fire Batt Chief Tim Fulmer.

Fulmer helped to get the crews dispatched to Montecito.

He says they are bringing special equipment to help listen for heartbeats or any other small sounds under feet of debris.

"The mud may have come down and blocked all the doorways they're not able to get out but they can still live inside the residence or a car whatever it is that they're in," said Fulmer.

"They're still alive inside these buildings that's why it's so important to search all of the buildings all of the vehicles in the area."

The search effort began at 5 a.m. for local crews.

Following an early morning briefing, they got boots on the ground in what can only be described as quicksand.

"The amount of rock and mud that's out here you're stepping in stuff that's knee-deep," said Jeremiah Wittwer.

"The mud up here is like fresh poured concrete. It's very slurry. It's like a suction cup when you step into it."

Local crew members are expected to remain in the area and help with rescue efforts through the weekend.

"The devastation like I said is just incredible. It's just something you don't see in a lifetime. The amount of rocks and debris that has come down from the mountains," said Fulmer.

Related Topics:
weathermudslideMontecito Heights
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