Sacramento International Airport Rescue Fire Fighters (ARFF) Chief Jeff Metzinger and firefighter Eric Lieuwen returned last week from a 14-day mission assisting crews in Oso, Washington where a massive landslide destroyed 49 homes, trapping many victims in tons of mud, debris, and trees.
Metzinger and Lieuwen were activated as part of California Task Force 7, a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Team. They were joined locally by firefighters from the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District and the City of Sacramento Fire Department, among others.
After an 18-hour drive, California Task Force 7 set up camp near the disaster site. Rain, cold temperatures and 16-hour days were routine.
Oso, which is located 55 miles northeast of Seattle, “is as quaint and charming a mountain community as you’ll ever see,” said Metzinger. “The devastation was shocking.”
As part of a declared disaster response, firefighter’s salaries and expenses are covered by FEMA.
Airport firefighters are part of a network of first responders assisting local, regional and national emergency response teams as needed. They returned to Sacramento, and their regular duties at Sacramento International Airport, on April 15.