TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Tampa fire lieutenant and his K-9 partner have joined the many first responders from across the country who are in Hawaii following the deadly and destructive wildfires.
“Some of it can’t be calculated by the brain, some of it you can see how and why,” said Lt. Brian Smithey to News Channel 8.
Lt. Smithey is a K-9 Specialist with Florida Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 2. He has been working with his K-9 Probie for a year and a half.
“For Probie, he’s young in his career,” Smithey said. “His first major deployment would have been Hurricane Ian.”
During his more than two decades on the state task force, Smithey has responded to several major hurricanes.
However, this is the first time it has been used after wildfires.
“Basically, it looks like a hurricane,” Smithey said, “except everything burned down. Also, this fire was extremely hot and some of the various structures and vehicles had just melted away.”
K-9 Probie specializes in searching for human remains. While on Maui, her focus is on bringing an end to the families of wildfire victims.
“We have a job to do and we’re trying to focus on that,” Smithey said. “Even though it’s tough, you try as best you can to keep the emotions out, but you always have them, but it’s just a matter of concentrating on the training that we’ve done and have.”
Smithey told News Channel 8 that he has never vacationed in Hawaii.
“After you get to know the people and some of the locals, you know it’s a place I definitely want to come back to,” Smithey said. “The people here have really accepted us.”
At least 114 people have died in the Maui wildfires.
Smithey said he and Probie would be helping with recovery efforts in Hawaii until they are told to go home.