CASTAIC (CBSLA.com) — Efforts will be scaled back Sunday night in the search for a missing off-duty firefighter in the rugged terrain of the Los Padres National Forest.
Crews and volunteers have spent more than 5,000 accumulated hours this past week scouring the mountains north of Fillmore for 36-year-old Michael Herdman.
Officials announced Sunday that Herdman’s family, and search and rescue experts have agreed to scale back at sunset. A small group of searchers will remain both at the Tar Creek trailhead, and at Herdman’s last campsite, 15 miles into the Sespe Wilderness.
Herdman’s dog, Duke, was found Sunday about 1 p.m. at the trailhead, dehydrated and hungry, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.
The dog had dashed into the brush a week ago Friday, prompting a barefoot Herdman and fellow firefighter Taylor Byars to chase after it. Byars says that was the last time he saw Herdman.
The search continued Sunday, its seventh day, in the Piru Wilderness, northwest of Castaic. Sunday’s 80-person effort began at 6 a.m., with helicopters joining in later in the morning, Sgt. Kevin Donoghue of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department said.
CBS2’s Art Barron reported that a hiker first spotted the dog about five miles away from the command center. The hiker contacted Herdman’s family and when they arrived they called Duke over and he came to them.
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