(UPDATED at 3:21 p.m. PDT, September 15, 2014)
CAL FIRE PIO Daniel Berlant sent this tweet at 2:53 p.m. PDT:
This afternoon a CAL FIRE captain & inmate crew deployed their shelters on #KingFire (El Dorado Co.) All are accounted, no reported injuries
Here is another tweet sent by Mr. Berlant:
(UPDATED at 2:59 p.m. PDT, September 15, 2014)
All of the firefighters are in helicopters, en route to an airport.
(UPDATED at 2:52 p.m. PDT, September 15, 2014)
The 12 firefighters who deployed fire shelters and then ran and walked a long distance to escape from the King Fire 11 miles east of Placerville, California, have reached the landing zone where a helicopter will extract them.
(UPDATED at 2:42 p.m. PDT, September 15, 2014)
The drinking water was delivered to the 12 escaping firefighters at the top of the hill at 2:33 p.m. (see the 3-D map below). From there they still have to hike downhill and then on flat ground 1,000 to 2,000 yards to the landing zone. The Helicopter Coordinator (HLCO) overhead is in constant contact with the firefighters, giving them directions as they hike.
The pointer is at the location where the water for the escaping firefighters will be dropped off. (The map looks to the east.) The firefighters from that point will hike downhill to the extraction point. (click to enlarge)
(UPDATED at 2:23 p.m. PDT, September 15, 2014)
The firefighters are still hiking to a point where a helicopter can land so that they can be extracted. They have to hike uphill and then down the other side. The Helicopter Coordinator (HLCO) coordinating the rescue effort estimates they will reach the landing zone at approximately 2:35 p.m. PDT. The firefighters have run out of drinking water (or previously dumped all of their gear so they could run faster) and are having some heat-related problems, including cramping. A helicopter has been instructed to deliver, presumably by sling load, several cases of drinking water to the firefighters before they reach the extraction point.
At least one helicopter is being rigged with a hoist in case that is needed to extract them from a point where a ship can’t land.
Three ambulances have been ordered to be at the airport where the helicopters will drop off the firefighters.
(UPDATED at 1:50 p.m. PDT, September 15, 2014)
The helicopter pilot escorting the 12 firefighters on their escape route told them they were safe at 1:48 p.m. “You guys are looking real good right now”, one of the pilots said. There was talk about getting a large helicopter to drop some water for dust abatement so that another ship could land and pick them up.
(Originally posted at 1:27 p.m. PDT, September 15, 2014; updated at 1:32 p.m. PDT, September 15, 2015)
At about 1 p.m. PDT on Monday there was a fire shelter deployment on the King Fire, which is burning 11 miles east of Placerville, California north of the community of Pollock Pines. In listening to the radio traffic, a Division Supervisor talking to Air Attack said a Task Force was overrun by fire, they were in a safety zone, but they were safe. He requested air support, but there was too much smoke for fixed wing air tankers to get in to the area.
Air Attack, as of 1:15 p.m. PDT was checking to see if helicopters could work the area, but when the incident unfolded they were all on the ground getting fuel. Later at about 1:25 p.m. PDT at least one helicopter with water was over the incident watching firefighters running, carrying fire shelters. The pilot was holding on to his water in case there was a major need for it later. He was giving the firefighters directions, saying “keep moving”.
One alternative considered was to extract the firefighters using a water bucket carried by a helicopter.
Someone else on the fire said they had five vehicles that were available to rescue the trapped firefighters, but the road to the area had just been overrun by a very intense fire and they were advised by a pilot to not try it.
There was also a report on the radio of a dozer that burned up, but there was “accountability for the operator”.
Our regular coverage of the King Fire.