Firefighter missing in New Mexico

(UPDATED at 6:18 p.m. MDT, September 6, 2013)

The body of Engine Captain Token Adams was found today. At 11:45 a.m. searchers discovered his remains about one-quarter mile from the nearest road. In a video about this development at KRQE, the reporter said there was an apparent crash of the ATV and that Captain Adams had been wearing full protective gear, but the exact cause of death has not been determined.

Below is an announcement issued Friday afternoon by the Incident Management Team managing the search organization:

Friday September 6 2013 – 4:45 pm

We are sad to announce that the body of Jemez Ranger District Engine Captain Token Adams has been located. Token was dispatched to locate a smoke reported on Friday August 30 2013. Search efforts began late Friday afternoon and continued through this morning when his body was discovered.

Token was an Engine Captain working in Jemez Springs NM. He was 41 years old and had been an Engine Captain on the Jemez Ranger District for 1 ½ years. He was a wildland firefighter for 10 years including previous experience as a hotshot. Before coming to the Forest Service Token served in the U.S. Navy. Token grew up in the community of Coarsegold California and was a 1990 graduate of Yosemite High School in Oakhurst California.

Token is survived by his wife Heidi a 3 year old son Tristan his mother a brother and sister. Token’s wife Heidi is expecting their second child.

All public and media are asked to please respect the privacy of the firefighter’s family during this time of mourning. We will release all details of this tragedy when more information becomes available.

Our sincere condolences go out to the family and co-workers of Capain Adams.

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(UPDATED at 7:45 a.m. MDT, September 6, 2013)

There is not much new to report on the search for missing firefighter Token Adams. The incident management team has released a missing person’s flyer, which contains the following information:

MISSING PERSON
Santa Fe National Forest requests your assistance in locating this person.
Search Subject: Token Adams
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION
Age: 41
Height: 5’ 11″
Weight: 165
Hair: Peppered
Eyes: Wearing black sunglasses
Last seen wearing long sleeve yellow nomex shirt, green nomex pants, and lace up brown leather wildland fire boots. Last seen in the area of Holiday Mesa off Forest Service road 608 on Friday, 8/30/13. Mr. Adams was seen riding a red Polaris 400 ATV while investigating a possible fire start when he disappeared.
If you were in the area of Holiday Mesa and Stable Mesa on or after August 30th and may have seen this individual, please contact the Forest Service at 505-438-5600.

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(UPDATED at 10:35 a.m. MDT, September 5, 2013)

Searchers are still looking for U.S. Forest Service engine captain Token Adams who was last seen Friday, August 30, as he boarded an ATV to attempt to locate a smoke that had been reported on the Santa Fe National Forest in northern New Mexico.

The mother of Token Adams, Letake Anderson, visited the Incident Base Camp Thursday morning. She spoke to search crews and thanked them for their hard work.

A Firewatch Cobra helicopter is scheduled to arrive today to provide additional support for the search team. This specialized helicopter has cameras as well as infrared and low-light sensors and can transmit images to search crews up to 30 miles away.

Firewatch Cobra helicopter N107Z
Firewatch Cobra N107Z on Bar Complex. USFS photo.

More information about the Firewatch Cobra.

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(UPDATED at 11:40 a.m. MDT, September 4, 2013)

The search and rescue operation continues today, looking for Engine Captain Token Adams who disappeared Friday. Captain Adams has not been heard from since he departed on an ATV trying  to find a fire that had been reported in the Santa Fe National Forest in northern New Mexico.

Joe Reinarz’s Type 1 Incident Management Team assumed command of search efforts Wednesday morning as part of a unified command and will oversee the organization in coordination with the New Mexico State Police.

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(UPDATED at 12:47 p.m. MDT, September 3, 2013)

Token Adams
Token Adams, USFS photo

Rain on Sunday and Monday hampered the search for Engine Captain Token Adams. The 250 personnel involved in the search are traversing topography described as extreme with sheer cliffs.

Despite the grid pattern being used by the professional and dedicated personnel on the incident, their efforts have not been successful. Searchers are using GPS as part of this grid pattern and are being asked to report their locations hourly. Searchers will focus Tuesday on determining that certain areas have been fully searched.

Weather predictions for today and tonight are for a 60% chance of showers and thunderstorms which will once again affect both air and ground operations.

HERE is a link to a map of the area being searched, but be advised it is a huge 19Mb file and will take a while to download.

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(UPDATED at 8:23 a.m. MDT September 3, 2013)

A Southwest Type 1 Incident Management Type, with Incident Commander Joe Reinarz, will assume command of the search efforts Wednesday morning at 6:00 a.m. for missing firefighter Token Adams. The team will begin in-briefing at noon Tuesday, September 3.

Mr. Adams is 41 years old and is an engine captain with the U.S. Forest Service and a former Hotshot. He is married with one son, and is expecting another child in less than a month.

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(Originally published at 2:27 p.m. MDT Monday, September 2, 2013)

A wildland firefighter sent out to look for a fire has been missing since Friday August 30. Token Adams was one of three people that were dispatched to a report of a smoke in the Schoolhouse Mesa area on the Jemez Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest in northern New Mexico. When they arrived in the general area Mr. Adams went off by himself on an all terrain vehicle to attempt to locate the smoke. He did not return as expected to the meeting point.

John Helmich, a spokesperson for the Santa Fe National Forest, told us on Monday that when Mr. Adams was first outbound to look for the smoke late in the day on Friday he called his wife on his cell phone, and has not been heard from since, either by phone or via the radio he also carried.

At least 200 people from several land management agencies, search and rescue organizations, the National Guard, and law enforcement agencies are actively searching for him. The Civil Air Patrol has used infrared equipment from a fixed wing aircraft and the New Mexico State Police have made a helicopter available.

The fire the three firefighters were trying to locate was eventually found. It was named the Schoolhouse Fire and was fully contained at 25 acres.

The last time we heard of wildland firefighters missing was late in the afternoon on June 30 — the Granite Mountain Hotshots were missing on the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona. We hope this incident has a better outcome.

Firewatch Cobra helicopter

Firewatch Cobra
Pilot Steve Jensen with the Firewatch Cobra Helicopter. Photo by Rick Hartigan, Fire Information Officer, Arizona Central West Zone Incident Management Team. 8/3/2006

The U.S. Forest Service has two helicopters they call Firewatch Cobras which are retrofitted Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters. The USFS has them outfitted with infrared sensors so that they can be used for close in intelligence support for ground troops, GIS mapping, real time color video, geo-referenced infrared, and infrared downlink. In addition to intelligence gathering, they are also used as a platform for an Air Attack Group Supervisor (ATGS) or a Helicopter Coordinator (HLCO).

Firewatch Cobra turret
The FLIR Turret (Forward Looking Infrared) is equipped with an infrared camera, low light color camera, spotter scope, laser range finder, and a laser pointer.
Firewatch Cobra
Firewatch Cobra on the Bar Complex Fire. USFS photo

This year one of the ships is based at Redding, California, and the other is just outside of Boise, Idaho at Lucky Peak Helibase. They are owned by the USFS, and staffed by an ATGS, but they are contractor supported and maintained. (Could this be the model for a new fleet of modern, safe, air tankers? Government-owned and contractor supported?)

The helicopter module includes a “Data Van” staffed with a GIS technician who can use the shape files produced on the helicopter to make perimeter maps of the fire. The van is also used for receiving and viewing the downlinked live video feed from the helicopter.

Firewatch Cobra Data Van
Firewatch Cobra Data Van

Check out these videos recorded on the Firewatch Cobras. The first one is from a fire on the Mendocino National Forest in the summer of 2006. The infrared on the Firewatch Cobra is looking at aerial ignition spheres being dropped by another helicopter. It appears that they can detect the “ping pong balls” very soon after they ignite on the ground.

The next one shows the ATGS on the Firewatch Cobra directing some firefighters on the ground to a hot spot near the line on the Jesusita fire near Santa Barbara on May 12, 2009. The heat source is so small that the firefighters walked past it and over it several times, but the ATGS could see it using the infrared equipment.

Specifications of the Firewatch Cobras (from the Firewatch Cobra web site)

Propulsion

  • Number of Engines: 1 [a newer version currently being used by the Marines has two engines]
  • Engine: T53-L-703
  • Horsepower: 1800

Performance

  • Range: 362 miles
  • Cruise Speed: 166 mph
  • Max Speed: 219 mph
  • Climb Rate: 1,680 feet per minute
  • Ceiling: 10,800 feet

N109Z was manufactured in 1969.  N107Z was manufactured in 1983.