Group of 13 missing hikers rescued from huge California wildfire

The Royal Fire had burned about 170 acres on Monday and triggered evacuations in the area

Lilith Foster-Collins
Tuesday 09 July 2024 17:25
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The hikers were reunited with their parents after the rescue

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A group of hikers who went missing in the midst of a huge wildfire in Tahoe National Forest, California, have now been rescued.

Placer County sheriff’s deputies found four cars parked within the Royal Fire zone on Monday – at a time when the wildfire had burned about 170 acres and had triggered mass evacuations and road closures in the area.

A ground and air search was launched to locate the 13 missing hikers, aged between 16 and 20, with officials checking campsites and trail heads in the area.

“We tried to do phone pinging,” said Placer County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Elise Soviar. “It’s a remote area, we weren’t able to reach any of the phones.”

Officials used a helicopter to drop two search and rescue crew members into the area who were then able to lead the hikers out of the fire zone and to safety.

The hikers were unharmed and “in good spirits,” she said.

Soviar praised the hikers for sticking together during what was a tricky situation.

The fire covered around 154 acres as of Monday evening, according to Placer County Sherriff’s Office
The fire covered around 154 acres as of Monday evening, according to Placer County Sherriff’s Office (Placer County Sherriff’s Office)
Officials used dogs to try and track down the missing hikers
Officials used dogs to try and track down the missing hikers (Placer County sheriff’s office)

“They did a great job, they all stayed together,” she said. “A lot of them did have experience hiking, so they had good equipment.

“They were aware that there was a fire and they were hiking in the other direction, and they felt comfortable with the distance they had got from the fire, around two miles.”

Michael Tait, one of the hikers, told NBC News about the moment that they saw the fire during the trek.

“I saw what looked like a campfire. But it spread,” he said.

Karla Hurd, one of the hiker’s parents, spoke of the relief when she heard they were safe.

“We knew that they were okay and they were safe, so that was a huge relief when we heard that,” she said.

Placer County Sherriff’s Office located the hikers using a helicopter
Placer County Sherriff’s Office located the hikers using a helicopter (Placer County Sherriff’s Office)
The hikers were rescued unharmed and in good spirits
The hikers were rescued unharmed and in good spirits (Placer County Sherriff’s Office)

“But to see eyes on them was good.”

The Royal Fire had grown to around 154 acres as of Monday evening, according to officials.

It is one of several huge wildfires currently spreading through California – fueled by a long-running heatwave – which have so far burned more than 169,000 acres, according to Cal Fire.

The biggest fire is the Lake Fire in Santa Barbara, covering more than 26,000 acres with just 12 per cent contained.

On Sunday, the fire came within a mile of Michael Jackson’s former Neverland Ranch, threatening the infamous property.

The Basin Fire in Fresno is the second largest at more than 14,000 acres, with 80 per cent containment.

On Friday, residents were evacuated near Yosemite National Park due to the French Fire wildfire, while other fires in California have triggered extensive evacuation orders and destroyed 25 structures.

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