OC K-9s Injured Searching For Victims Of New Mexico Wildfires

ORANGE COUNTY, CA—Orange County Fire Authority acknowledged its four-legged heroes this week, with K-9 FEMA Task Force officers who suffered injuries working the wildfires burning in central New Mexico.

Canine Handler teams Christine Mackenzie with K-9 Mia, Julie Kirk Purcell with K-9 Keres, and Eric Darling with K-9 Mazie were sent to New Mexico to help search for burned homes and structures affected by the wildfires.

The South Fork Fire, burning near Ruidoso since June 17, has destroyed or damaged over 1,400 structures and was just over 50% contained. Two people were killed as a result of the blaze, while thousands more fled the flames.

Find out what's happening in Laguna Niguel-Dana Pointwith free, real-time updates from Patch.

The Associated Press reports that arson is thought to be the blame.

As evacuations were lifted, some of Ruidoso’s evacuated residents long to return home, and officials are focusing on recovery, according to Mayor Lynn Crawford.

Find out what's happening in Laguna Niguel-Dana Pointwith free, real-time updates from Patch.

Among that recovery effort is the K-9 teams’ search for human remains in areas now classified as crime scenes, according to KOAT.

“They’re going through the affected areas. The reason (residents are) not allowed is, one, we need to make sure that we don’t contaminate the scene any more than it already is,” Crawford told KOAT. “If the dog has a hit and then they actually find human remains, a forensics team brought in from the state police declares it a crime zone so that they can identify the body or the person.”

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrests and convictions of those responsible for the South Fork Fire and Salt Fire, both burning in the area, forcing the evacuations of thousands.

The Lincoln County Office of Emergency Services stated that crews working the blaze were now mopping up hot spots until full containment was reached. In the coming days, they will remove hazardous trees and work towards securing the fire perimeter while the K-9s continue their work looking for further fire victims.

“K-9 Mia and K-9 Keres were injured while working but are expected to continue their mission without any limitations,” Barta said.

Each K-9 officer is highly trained to detect human remains, according to Capt. Barta.

“They use their keen sense of smell to detect human remains in various environments, assist teams in recovery operations, and help to bring closure to families,” he said.

According to Barta, the K-9 officers’ injuries were not debilitating and would not halt their efforts to do their jobs.

“This is thanks to the great care of the Incident Support Team veterinarian,” Barta said. “Our thoughts are with all those affected by the tragic wildfires.”

Get more local news delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for free Patch newsletters and alerts.

Click Here:

0 thoughts on “OC K-9s Injured Searching For Victims Of New Mexico Wildfires”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *