Creek Fire: Dozens airlifted from raging wildfire, brought to Army base in Fresno

Several people trapped by the devastating Creek Fire were airlifted out on Tuesday morning. At least three different flights landed at the Army National Guard Base.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Several people trapped by the devastating Creek Fire were airlifted out on Tuesday morning. At least three different flights landed at the Army National Guard Base.

Starting at 3 in the morning, a Blackhawk helicopter and a Chinook helicopter made eight trips to and from Lake Edison and transported 152 people trapped there by the flames.

RELATED: Creek Fire grows to 135,523 acres with 0% containment, new evacuations issued for Fresno, Madera counties

In total, rescue choppers pulled 164 people from the Sierra National Forest through the morning and were working to rescue 17 others, Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a press conference on Tuesday. He said pilots wore night-vision goggles to find a place to land.

The Fresno County Sheriff's Office said 10 Fresno County law enforcement officers - seven sheriff's deputies and three Fresno Police officers - were among those airlifted from Lake Edison.

The officers had travelled to Florence Lake, Edison Lake and Mono Hot Springs on Monday to help evacuate people there. When conditions worsened, the officers, along with 142 hikers and campers they were able to make contact with, sheltered at the Vermillion Valley Resort at Edison Lake until they were transported to the Fresno Yosemite International Airport the next morning.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom discusses firefight against fast-growing Creek Fire in Fresno County

Video courtesy of David Angelo showed a group of people who were unable to safely make their way down the hill loading into a helicopter. A couple of dogs were rescued as well.

Action News spoke with 14-year-old Ethan Thao from Fresno, who was on a fishing trip with his family near Huntington Lake. He said he was rescued from China Peak after being trapped for 14 hours.

"It was kind of hard to breathe, but then I got through it because I stayed in the car most of the time. It went by faster because I was asleep," Thao said.

Four Fresno Area Express (FAX) buses arrived to transport people to Clovis North High School, Fresno Fire said.

RELATED: Creek Fire: Resources for evacuees affected by blaze

On Monday evening, officials said more than 60 people were trapped at Lake Edison and China Peak, and a rescue operation to retrieve them was unsuccessful.

Authorities told Action News 14 people were trapped on China Peak and at least 50 others were trapped at Lake Edison.

A Chinook aircraft piloted by a team of military personnel tried to land and rescue the trapped people, but the smoky conditions made it impossible for the team to approach safely.

On Monday, Fresno Fire also said one person had collapsed at Mono Hot Springs due to a medical episode and died. EMS personnel could not respond to the location due to the fire. They say the death was not caused by the fire.

This is the second such rescue being carried out since the Creek Fire broke out on Friday.

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

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As of 1 am on Sunday, at least 163 people have been rescued from Mammoth Pool, Minarets, and Cascadel Woods.

On Saturday and Sunday, 214 people were rescued from the Mammoth Pool Reservoir in Madera County after they were trapped by rapidly spreading flames.

A Black Hawk helicopter and a large Chinook helicopter made several trips through the night to bring the people back to safety.

Six of those people were taken to the burn unit at Community Regional Medical Center. One of them was released and five are in fair condition.

The Creek Fire has spread to more than 143,000 acres, CAL FIRE officials said on Monday. It's still at 0% containment.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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