Off-duty Arcadia firefighter goes missing

FILLMORE, Calif. (KABC) -- A search is underway for an off-duty Arcadia firefighter who disappeared in the mountains near Fillmore.

A friend reported Mike Herdman missing on Sunday, prompting a search by air. Search and rescue intensified the effort with a ground hunt Monday. The search stopped for the night and resumed again at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Arcadia firefighter Mike Herdman is seen in this undated file photo.

Arcadia Fire Department

Herdman and a friend went hiking Wednesday deep into the back country in the mountains north of Fillmore. As they were setting up camp Friday night, his dog took off. Herdman followed and never returned. His friend had to hike out for two days in order to get cellphone service to call for help.

"The last that he was seen Friday night when he was with his friend, he took off running after his dog, which ran down the creek, and at that time he was barefoot wearing shorts and T shirt," said Sgt. Eric Buschow with the Ventura County Sheriff's Department.

Investigators say the 34-year-old is an experienced outdoorsman and a strong athlete. But the terrain and temperature are two of the biggest concerns. At night, temperatures have been dropping down into the low 40s, and with no shoes and just shorts and a T-shirt, it's a very dangerous situation.

"To be up here for three days without any food or shelter or additional clothing, it's going to be a tough environment to stay in," said Buschow.

Rescue teams airlifted into the area found the campsite and Herdman's gear, but there was no sign he had ever returned. At this point authorities don't know if he may be injured. Everyone is hoping his training and physical fitness will help him survive.

"We blow whistles once in a while to see if we can't hear anybody. We stop, we listen, you know, all your traditional ways of looking for anybody that might be injured," said Sgt. Roger De Wames with the Ventura County Sheriff's Department.

Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.