Phoenix firefighters rescue multiple hikers Thursday amid triple-digit heat
PHOENIX — Phoenix firefighters performed multiple rescues on Camelback Mountain on Thursday amid triple-digit heat, the department announced.
Both rescues occurred on the Echo Canyon Trail, the Phoenix Fire Department said in a press release.
A fit 33-year-old man became overheated and dehydrated after desert hiking in the afternoon and was found by rescuers out of water, authorities said.
The man was so weak he needed to be flown off the mountain using a helicopter and a hoist operation and was transported to the hospital after arriving at the landing zone at the base of the mountain.
Earlier in the day around noon, a rescue team also assisted a family of five from out-of-state who had been hiking for several hours when they became dehydrated and overheated, authorities said.
Firefighters hiked to their side and brought water and medical equipment for assessment.
Officials said a 13-year-old girl was so overheated that she needed to be lowered by firefighters down the mountain in a basket on a big wheel and was transported to the hospital for further treatment and continued assessment.
The rescues on Camelback Mountain were two of four on the day, authorities said.
Phoenix’s parks and recreation board on Tuesday approved a pilot program that would close select trails on days when the National Weather Service issues an excessive heat watch, with Camelback Mountain’s Echo Canyon Trail on the list of closures.
The pilot program starts Friday and runs through Sept. 30, with the closures taking place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The closures were requested by the United Phoenix Firefighters Association after 12 Phoenix firefighters had to be sent home from duty on June 16 with heat-related issues after performing three consecutive mountain rescues in less than 24 hours during an excessive heat warning.
Two of those firefighters had to be hospitalized with acute renal failure.
The Echo Canyon trail was of particular importance from the union to close during extreme heat as it is one of the trails that usually requires the use of the city’s helicopter that can’t operate safely in temperatures of 116 degrees or higher.
The city’s parks and recreation department reminds people to watch the weather when hiking, dress appropriately, bring water, keep in contact with a mobile phone, hike with others and be honest about medical conditions.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar contributed to this report.