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San Diego team deploys to Camp Fire zone in Northern California

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — San Diego Fire is among eight local agencies that make up Task Force 8.

They're a specialized group of first responders sent to the Camp Fire to help search for the remains of those unaccounted for.

"There’s still a lot of people that need to be found, so it is a difficult task,” said San Diego Fire Deputy Chief John Wood. “We want to get this done."

Nearly two weeks after the Camp Fire ripped through Butte County, destroying the town of Paradise, hundreds of people are still unaccounted for.

“It is so difficult because its tedious work,” said Wood. “You have to do it step-by-step, you have to line up, very, very thorough searches for this."

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That's where California's Task Force 8 comes in.

Thirty-seven people from eight local agencies including: Carlsbad, Chula Vista, San Marcos, Santee and Heartland Fire Departments left early Monday for Butte County where they will help locate and identify human remains.

"[There will be] a search specialist, a rescue specialist, a canine handler, firefighters; we have logistics specialists, because sometimes we may be living in conditions for a long time or taking care of equipment,” said Wood.

Shelves that are usually filled with supplies are now nearly empty because of all that will be taken with the task force.

"[We’re taking] everything from shelter to food to medical equipment to structure to forklifts,” said Wood.

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He says the group last deployed this past summer when they went to Maui to help with hurricane relief.

This time around the group drove two semis, two box trucks, two trailers, and several vans.

But, they didn't have much time to plan - they were just alerted Sunday night and chose to leave almost immediately because of a scheduled rain storm moving in.

"Because we want to get [to do] that search before those rains hit because sometimes it might be very small fragments,” said Wood. “It’s giving the families closure and letting them know they can put their loved one to rest.”

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EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been edited to say the participating fire agencies include: Carlsbad, Chula Vista, San Marcos, Santee and Heartland Fire Departments. 

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