A one-acre fire on the steep rugged slopes of Saddle Mountain in Saddle Mountain State Park, seven miles north of the U.S. Highway 53 and U.S. Highway 26 junction, trapped 19 hikers for about three hours Sunday evening.
Fire crews from the Hamlet Fire Department, Seaside Fire Department, Gearhart Fire Department, Cannon Beach Fire and Rescue, Warrenton Fire Department, Lewis and Clark Fire Department, Olney Walluski Fire and Rescue, Knappa Fire Department, Oregon Department of Forestry and Tillamook’s South Fork Forest Camp arrived at the scene around 5 p.m. and battled the blaze over the next five hours.
The U.S. Coast Guard was initially called in to airlift the stranded hikers from the mountain, but once there was enough personnel on the scene, they managed to get the fire under control and lead the hikers downhill to safety around 8 p.m.
The hikers were never in any real danger, said Bill Boone, fire chief of Hamlet Fire Department.
At around 10:30 p.m., the approximately 30 volunteers from the eight local fire departments went home, leaving about 25 firefighters from the Oregon Department of Forestry and South Fork Forest Camp to extinguish the rest of the flames.
Boone said it’s too early to determine what caused the fire, but “it’s safe to say it was human-caused.” There was no lightening and no other possible source, he added.