Jimmy Patronis praises first responders in Surfside search-and-rescue, calls them 'best of the best'

State fire marshal asks for prayers as rescuers continue search for survivors
bird's eye view of workers at Champlain Towers South collapse site, June 26, 2021
Posted at 9:42 AM, Jun 27, 2021

SURFSIDE, Fla. — As search-and-rescue efforts continue around the clock at the wreckage site of the Surfside condominium collapse, first responders from throughout the state are on hand to provide some relief for tired South Florida rescuers.

State fire marshal Jimmy Patronis said Sunday the same resources used in the aftermath of a "Category 5 hurricane hitting a major city" have been allocated to Surfside.

Patronis praised the first responders who have been searching for survivors since Thursday morning's partial collapse, calling them "the best of the best."

At least five people have died and more than 150 others are still missing.

A smoldering fire in the rubble has hampered search efforts, but Patronis said rescuers remain committed to finding people alive at the Champlain Towers South collapse site.

"I'm proud of the work they're doing," he said.

Patronis choked up while speaking about the emotional toll on first responders and the families of the victims.

"It's raw for the families and the families have experienced a very unnatural form of terror," Patronis said. "You're not supposed to see a loved one just disappear and you're asking and putting your faith in people you've never met before to bring your loved one to a safe place. That's a lot of trust. That's a lot of emotion."

Patronis said Sunday was an appropriate day to ask for prayers for the first responders who are risking their lives to save lives.

"I don't know what God's plans are," Patronis said. "Sometimes I wish he'd let me know."