USA — Crews were back on the ground on Monday searching for a Forest Service firefighter who vanished in the Santa Fe National Forest in northern New Mexico on Friday while sizing up a wildfire’s perimeter on an ATV.
Forest Service spokeswoman Karen Takai said 100 searchers were scouring mesas and canyons amid heavy timber, brush and grass for 41-year-old Token Adams in the area of Jemez (HAY’-mus) Springs.
He failed to return to a pre-arranged meeting point Friday afternoon with two other firefighters who were also riding ATVs around the 25-acre wildfire southeast of Fenton Lake. Forest Service spokesman John Helmich said the lightning-started wildfire was fully contained late Friday.
Takai says the search area initially covered about 25 square miles but has since been expanded to about 30 square miles.
Searchers include State Police, firefighters and volunteer search and rescue crews. Tracking dogs, air patrols and teams on horseback were also looking for Adams, as was a State Police helicopter equipped with an infrared camera.
Helmich said Adams, like all Forest Service firefighters, was required to have protective gear and a pack that would have included an emergency shelter, water and food.
Fellow firefighters said they never heard a call for help from Adams, who lives in the area, and so far neither he nor his ATV has been spotted.
“If we find a location where he may have left, we’ll look where his track started and we’ll work off of ground disturbance and air scent,” David Chavez, a dog-handling officer with the Forest Service, told KRQE-TV.
Wes Crownover, State Police incident commander, said Adams and his wife spoke by phone early Friday afternoon and that he didn’t seem to be in trouble at the time.