Yesterday at 6:00 am the Joe Reinarz Type 1 Southwest Incident Management Team joined forces with Dave Denali’s New Mexico State Police Search and Rescue Team to assist in search efforts for missing firefighter Token Adams. Under a unified command structure the Type I team and the New Mexico team will be able to combine local resources with national resources to aid in the search for Token Adams.
A Firewatch “Cobra” helicopter is schedule to arrive today to provide additional support for the search team. This specialized helicopter has cameras as well as infrared and low-light sensors. Its low-light sensors and transmission equipment can transmit images to search crews up to 30 miles away. Search teams use a gridding technique to ensure that all areas are covered thoroughly before eliminating and moving to a different area. Air and ground search areas overlap.
The mother of Token Adams, Ietake Anderson, visited the Incident Base Camp this morning. She spoke to search crews and thanked them for their hard work.
A 25 square-mile section of the Santa Fe National Forest is being searched. Approximately 25 percent of the area has been covered on foot and 70 percent by air.
Also read our first post on this story: https://fggam.org/search-continues-for-missing-new-mexico-firefighter-in-jemez-mountains/
This is a great story by Tom Sharpe of the Santa Fe New Mexican on Token…………We thank the folks at the New Mexican for allowing us to post this article.
Posted: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 9:00 pm |Updated: 1:50 pm, Thu Sep 5, 2013.
JEMEZ SPRINGS — Token Adams, a U.S. Forest Service firefighter who vanished Friday in the Jemez Mountains, is a smart, kind-hearted family man experienced in wilderness survival, according to acquaintances and co-workers who struggled to maintain cautious optimism Wednesday, as the search for Adams marked its fifth day without success.
Kevin Dahl, whose uncle rents a home to Adams in Jemez Springs, echoed the frustrations of many others in the village when he spoke about the mystery that began when Adams failed to return from a mission to find the perimeter of a small forest fire about five miles west of Jemez Springs.
“I know he’s a smart guy, a really nice guy, respectful to everyone, kind-hearted,” Dahl said. “I’m just wondering what happened to him out there because he knows what he’s doing. He had all his equipment with him. … Anybody here knows it’s easy to get out. You just got to walk down into the canyon and find a road.”
Dahl, who was sitting at a computer terminal in the Jemez Springs Public Library on Wednesday afternoon, said he and his cousin joined the search over the weekend.
Jemez Springs swirled with rumors that Adams had vanished on purpose or met with foul play.
But a bartender at the Los Ojos restaurant, bar and package store said when she saw Adams with his pregnant wife, Heidi, and their 3-year-old son at a local pizza place a week ago, he told her they were excited that they would soon be having a baby girl.
“If he is still out there alive, he’s probably hurting right now, thinking about his kids,” Dahl said. “When he went to work that day, he was happy he was going to have a kid. He was telling everybody about it.”
Dahl said he had heard that just before Adams vanished, Adams had reported finding a group of people whom he suspected were responsible for starting a 25-acre fire on Schoolhouse Mesa. But Forest Service personnel did not confirm that report.
According to the brief biography assembled by the Forest Service, Adams turns 42 in a couple of weeks. He grew up in Coarsegold, Calif., graduated from Yosemite High School in Oakhurst, Calif., in 1990, and served in U.S. Navy’s Special Forces. He trained in wilderness survival with the Navy SEALs.
Adams has worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 10 years, some of that on a Hotshot firefighting crew. For the past year and a half, he has been a captain of a wildland fire engine crew in the Jemez Ranger District. Prior to that, he was with the Apalachicola National Forest in Florida. Some say he had worked for the Forest Service in Texas and California, but the Forest Service did not confirm that.
By midday Wednesday, 240 people from 18 government agencies were combing a 25-square-mile section of the Santa Fe National Forest, roughly equidistant from Jemez Springs, La Cueva and Fenton Lake. The West Mesa area includes at least four mesas separated by canyons that plunge hundreds of feet. The trees and brush along the edges are so thick that the steep canyons are not visible until one is within a few feet.
Searchers used horses, ATVs, other off-road vehicles, dogs, helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and heat-seeking sensors. But the main method has been on foot, with searchers walking side by side in a grid pattern to thoroughly cover the rugged terrain. They found a knife and a few articles of clothing that briefly raised hopes, but they determined the clues weren’t linked to Adams.
Adams and two other men on ATVs struck out early Friday to find the perimeter of the small fire, which had been reported by someone at a fire lookout tower the day before. He reportedly called his wife on his cellphone at midday Friday from the edge of Holiday Mesa. A call to him about an hour later went to his cellphone voice mail. Subsequent calls were not forwarded, indicating his phone’s battery was dead.
“He was very regimented in how he worked,” said Forest Service spokeswoman Karen Takai. “So for him not to call back every 15 minutes, they knew something was wrong.”
Takai said this is the first time she recalls a firefighter vanishing while fighting a forest fire.
Jemez District Ranger Linda Riddle said about 30 people work for her office in the summer and that Adams was a “stellar employee” and a “real family man.”
Heidi Adams said in a statement Wednesday, “We would like to express the heartfelt gratitude we feel for all the men and women that are out there searching for Token. We are thankful for all the support we have received from the community and our Forest Service Family. Words cannot express how grateful we are to everyone involved. Please continue to respect our privacy during this difficult time. Thank You!”
Contact Tom Sharpe at 986-3080 or email@example.com.
Permission granted by the Santa Fe New Mexican