Penticton fire Chief Larry Watkinson has joined the desperate hunt for hurricane survivors in the Bahamas.
Watkinson, along with his search dog Sammy, joined a 13-person crew of Burnaby firefighters for the mission.
The team left B.C. on Sept. 8 and landed at their destination, Great Abaco Island, about 300 kilometres south of Florida, on Tuesday.
Watkinson did not respond to an email request for comment, but has been tweeting sporadically on the Penticton Fire Department’s account.
“Great Abaco is in rough shape. Today flew in and we secured camp, and all the logistical needs for our team, tomorrow will start searching for the next 4 days,” he wrote on Tuesday.
Hurricane Dorian tore through the Bahamas in early September. As of Wednesday, the government there estimated 2,500 people were still unaccounted for in the rubble, while the death toll had risen to 50.
In an interview with Global News before he left, Watkinson said there was a narrow window during which to find survivors.
“We’re getting a quick deployment out of this to the Bahamas, so I do believe there is a great opportunity to find live people still trapped in their homes,” he said.
Mark Pullen, a retired Burnaby firefighter who helped organize the mission, told Global the team will use dogs, plus acoustic and seismic equipment to help find people amidst wreckage.
The team travelled to Nepal in 2015 following a major earthquake there, and also assisted following natural disasters in Haiti in 2010 and New Orleans in 2005.