COLUMBIA — The Boone County Fire Protection District has sent an advance search-and-rescue team of nine to Fort Leonard Wood to help victims of a tornado that hit Friday morning.
Although the district's Missouri Task Force 1 also was preparing to send dozens more volunteers to the military base, Division Chief Gale Blomenkamp said in a late afternoon news release that they were no longer needed.
The task force had been prepared to deploy more than 100,000 pounds of equipment with the volunteers, as well as search dogs, fiber optic cameras and seismic listening devices.
The National Weather Service said preliminary reports indicate that there are injuries and some structural damage, but the extent was not immediately clear.
The advance team left Columbia about 1:30 p.m. and included search-and-rescue technicians, a structural engineer, communications specialist, safety officer, medical component, search canine and task force leader. Blomenkamp said the team's mission is to assist with immediate needs in primary search-and-rescue of damaged structures on the base.
"It was requested by the Fort Leonard Wood Fire Department through the Statewide Mutual Aid System," Blomenkamp said.
The team includes doctors and others so the team can operate independently.
"When we go down there, we've got to be self-sufficient," Blomenkamp said.
Blomenkamp's latest news release said the tornado struck a housing development of nearly 280 homes, about 50 of which sustained "catastrophic damage." Others had roof or primarily cosmetic damage. There were no reports of people being trapped in homes or other buildings.
Fire Chief Scott Olsen said the order to stand down was a good thing.
"Shortly after the recon team arrived and was able to make contact with the incident commander, I received the call from them to cancel any additional resources," Olsen said in the news release. "That tells us that the life threat has diminished and that the situation there has stabilized. We would anticipate the recon team returning sometime later tonight."