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142 evacuated from Creek Fire by Navy and National Guard helicopters; body of deceased man recovered

Firefighters respond to a structure fire along Riverdale Boulevard as the fire line creeps up on Highway 9 during the CZU Lightning complex fire on Sunday, August 23, 2020 in Boulder Creek, California. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
September 09, 2020

U.S. Navy and California Army National Guard helicopters evacuated 142 people who had been trapped by the Creek Fire and brought them to safety in Fresno.

The stranded people were backpackers and campers in the area of Edison Lake, Mono Hot Springs and Florence Lake, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said. They gathered at the Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake to make the flight to Fresno.

An Air National Guard helicopter and another from Naval Air Station Lemoore made eight total flights to transport out the 142 people along with seven sheriff’s deputies and three Fresno police officers who had been dispatched to look for people in the area.

The flights started around 3 a.m. Tuesday and wrapped up around 10 a.m., the sheriff’s office. said.

All the people were taken to Fresno Yosemite International Airport.

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“The operation went smoothly and nobody suffered any injuries,” sheriff’s office spokesman Tony Botti said.

The crews also recovered the body of a man who had died at Edison Lake and flew him back to Fresno.

On Sunday evening, the man arrived at the VVR store at Edison, where he collapsed due a medical episode, the sheriff’s office said. Life-saving measures were taken, but he ended up passing away.

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© 2020 The Fresno Bee