Creek Fire: 214 people airlifted from Mammoth Pool reservoir in daring rescue

BySara Sandrik and staff KFSN logo
Monday, September 7, 2020
Creek Fire: Over 150 people air lifted from Mammoth Pool campground in daring rescue, some hospitalized
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As of 1 am on Sunday, at least 163 people have been rescued from Mammoth Pool, Minarets, and Cascadel Woods.

FRESNO, Calif. -- A massive rescue operation airlifted more than 200 people to safety after the fast-moving Creek Fire trapped them near the Mammoth Pool Reservoir in Madera County.

RELATED: Creek Fire grows to 45,500 acres with 0% containment, thousands of structures threatened

Starting on Saturday night lasting into Sunday morning, a Black Hawk helicopter and a large Chinook helicopter flew 214 people to the National Guard base at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport.

The two aircrafts conducted three lifts from the Mammoth Pool Reservoir along the Fresno/Madera County border, per the National Guard.

Once at the base, emergency medical workers helped triage and take the injured to local hospitals, including Community Regional Medical Center (CRMC). Twenty of them were to nearby hospitals and six are in CRMC's burn unit, EMS officials told Action News.

One of the victims at CRMC has been treated and released, with the other five remain in fair condition, as of Sunday afternoon. One of the victims was transferred from Valley Children's Hospital to CRMC and they are also in fair condition.

Three people were at Clovis Community Hospital. One has been released and the other two are in good condition.

The California National Guard tweeted out a photo of dozens of evacuees packed into the Chinook helicopter as they were flown to safety.

The survivors, mostly campers who were staying in the area, were trapped for because the fire cut off the roads leading out of the area.

With no other way out, fire and law enforcement agencies from Fresno County and Madera County, as well as members of the National Guard, conducted the daring rescue operation. Images show helicopters landing on the lake's boat ramp with burning trees all around sending embers into the sky.

Action News spoke with several of those rescued victims about the fast flames that forced an evacuation.

A pair of sisters say their weekend getaway quickly turned into a nightmare.

"One minute you're at camp and the next you're driving through flames, trying to get to the lake to make sure you're not in the fire," they said.

"We got ice and 30 minutes later, the fire engulfed everything," says Jeremy Remington.

RELATED: Creek Fire disrupts holiday weekend plans for many families, evacuations underway (edited)

One of the people who was flown into Fresno is Ashley Wagner.

She was not hurt, but she was airlifted to safety because she has an infant.

Wagner and two family members and a friend were trapped by the flames in Logan's Meadow behind Wagner's Store where they waited out the fire.

She said the store that was run by her aunt has been destroyed, saying, "My family's history just went up in flames."

The store had been serving the community since 1957.

RELATED: Terrified families flee surrounded by flames, return to destroyed homes

The Fresno Convention Center is serving as a temporary base for those rescued to rest and wait to be reunited with family. As of 8 am Sunday, there are 123 people and 11 pets and animals at the convention center.