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182nd Airlift Wing firefighters respond to tornado devastation in Washington, Ill.

Firefighters with the 182nd Airlift Wing Civil Engineer Squadron survey tornado damage in Washington, Ill., Nov. 17, 2013. Ten firefighters were dispatched in three vehicles at approximately 12:58 p.m. to help with immediate urban search and rescue operations. (Courtesy photo by Illinois Air National Guard Master Sgt. Shawn Penninger)

Firefighters with the 182nd Airlift Wing Civil Engineer Squadron survey tornado damage in Washington, Ill., Nov. 17, 2013. Ten firefighters were dispatched in three vehicles at approximately 12:58 p.m. to help with immediate urban search and rescue operations. (Courtesy photo by Illinois Air National Guard Master Sgt. Shawn Penninger)

PEORIA, Ill. --      Firefighters from the Illinois Air National Guard's 182nd Airlift Wing here responded to Washington, Ill., yesterday to provide mass assistance when a tornado struck the city Sunday morning and caused wide-spread destruction.
     There was obviously an overwhelming need for help when the firefighters arrived, said Master Sgt. Shawn Penninger, the on-duty shift supervisor.
     Ten firefighters were dispatched in three vehicles at approximately 12:58 p.m. to help with immediate urban search and rescue operations. As soon as the scene began to stabilize with outside emergency response capabilities, the firefighters withdrew. The firefighters searched 36 collapsed structures, shut off six residential gas lines and conducted debris removal.
     "We were just assisting local authorities until they would get on their feet," said Col. William Robertson, commander of the 182nd Airlift Wing. "The situation has been stabilizing as civilian equipment has come into the area. We have then been able to pull out, and we'll be waiting at the 182nd if they need us."
     (Information from a Peoria Journal Star article was used in this story.)