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Indiana Task Force 1 sends members to Maui

A shoulder patch worn by a member of Indiana Task Force 1. Members of Indiana Task Force I have deployed to Maui for search and rescue operations after last week's devastating wildfires. (Provided Photo/INTF-1 Facebook)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Two members of Indiana Task Force 1 are heading to the Hawaiian island of Maui to help with search and rescue in Lahaina following last week’s devastating wildfires.

“Two members of IN-TF1, One Structural Specialist and one HRD canine team, have deployed to assist in the search operations in Lahaina. We lift all responders in our thoughts and prayers as well as all those affected by this disaster,” Indiana USAR Task Force 1 said in a Facebook post.

Indiana Task Force 1 is one of 28 highly-trained U.S. urban search and rescue teams sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The task force started in 1992 and has grown into an elite team capable of deploying anywhere in the continental United States. Last year, INTF-1 members went to Florida following Hurricane Ian in December and deployed to eastern Kentucky after catastrophic flooding in July.

INTF-1 also shared a post from the National Urban Search and Rescue System that says personnel and canines are working in areas of West Maui, including Lahaina.

At least 96 people are now dead as the federal government and other states send aid and resources to Hawaii. Officials say it is the deadliest wildfire in a century and they expect the death toll to continue to rise.

Leaders in Hawaii are asking tourists to avoid Maui because many resorts are housing both evacuees and first responders.

The Hawaii tourism authority confirms about 46,000 people have left Maui since last week. Tourists are encouraged to visit the other islands as the recovery efforts start.

“Please understand that we come at this like an ‘ohana because it’s going to be in the short term, heartbreaking in the long term, people are going to need mental health care services in the very long term, we’ll rebuild together,” Hawaii Governor Josh Green said Sunday.

In the Hawaiian language, the word ‘ohana means family.

Green says he expects more victims to be found. While walking down Front Street in Lahaina, he told reporters that some victims were positively identified Saturday.

“I had tears this morning,” Green said, adding that he was afraid of what he would see at the disaster site.

Operations were focusing on “the loss of life,” he added.