3 hikers evacuated by helicopter from Pincushion trail during Gold Fire

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FRESNO COUNTY (KSEE) — The Gold Fire broke out Wednesday afternoon in northern Fresno County at the Fine Gold Recreation Area at Sky Harbor Road, near Millerton Lake and the popular Pincushion hiking trail.

Some hikers were able to make their way down safely without any help, but three others had to be transported by Fresno County Sheriff’s Eagle 1 helicopter.

During their first trip, the aircrew located a couple near the top of Pincushion and took them to the Millerton Lake Boat Ramp.

“They were exhausted. They were probably not sure what to do. Their route of getting to Pincushion was via the fire route, so they didn’t know another way to get out,” said pilot Michael Sill.

“As I was exiting the helicopter, you could see the smoke coming up from the backside of Pincushion. The fire was probably about 150 yards or so away from us,” said technical flight officer Greg Villanueva. 

Then, the crew flew back to the trail and found another hiker.

All three hikers were evacuated away from the fire within about 10 minutes.

The Sheriff’s Office aircrew was able to coordinate with CalFire’s aircraft to stay out of their way, but they said the wind did pose a challenge for visibility.

“It wasn’t bad initially, but it didn’t take long with the winds, the smoke became an issue,” said Sill.

It was a much clearer view on the mountain Thursday, as containments on the Gold Fire rose to 45%, and no significant increase in acreage.

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July 23 2021 05:30 pm

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