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Sacramento Rescue Crews Searching For Washington Mudslide Survivors

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OSO, Wash. (CBS13) — The ongoing mudslide danger is just one of many challenges facing searchers from Sacramento looking for victims of a deadly Washington slide.

They’ve already made some crucial discoveries, but they know it’s still a difficult road ahead.

When the mountainside about the Stillaguamish River shook, roared and slide down onto the town of Oso in Washington.

Rescuers from Sacramento’s specialized Urban Search and Rescue team were quick to volunteer for help. They made it onto the scene by the weekend and have spent three days from sunup to sundown, applying their finely honed skills to the search.

Battalion Chief Marc Bentojoa shared photos of the team’s work and spoke to CBS13 by phone.

“We’re experiencing something of a magnitude and condition that we’ve never faced in our deployments,” he said. “It’s quite vast, several square miles, of mud, debris and timber.”

During the painstaking search, it is often a matter of going through debris bucket by bucket. The Sacramento team’s canine units seek out signs of human life or remains. So far, they’ve found a half-dozen victims dead.

But the dangerous debris field remains a tough place to search.

“There’s still quite a bit of quicksand mud out there, and it’s still pretty treacherous, and guys are falling in, they’re not getting injured thank God,” he said. “When you see how far away it came from, it’s fairly surreal to think it came that far & traveled that far.”

The USAR team was told they will be in Washington for at least two weeks, and possibly longer.

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