USAR K9’s Respond to Gatlinburg

Six canines and their handlers head to wildfire destruction

YOLANDA JONES, The Commercial Appeal

The K-9 unit with Tennessee Task Force I deployed Tuesday morning to Gatlinburg to help with search and rescue as a wildfire raged displacing thousands of people and damaging hundreds of structures.

Memphis Fire Department spokesman Lt. Wayne Cooke said six canines and their handlers left Memphis headed to Gatlinburg around 2 or 3 a.m.

“They wanted to help with search and rescue,” Cooke said. “They volunteered their services.”

Tennessee Task Force I, a FEMA urban search and rescue response team, deploys often to help with disasters including hurricanes and fires.

The wildfires in the Gatlinburg area have destroyed hundreds of structures and more than 14,000 people have been evacuated from the area, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency reported Tuesday morning.

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