Drones to be used to search for missing hiker in Fresno County

This is one of the largest and longest-running searches Fresno County has had in at least two years
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Though Orangevale native Miyuki Harwood has been missing for almost a week, search and rescue teams from Fresno County and around the state are only stepping up their search for her.

Wednesday, they took advantage of clear skies, and flying more searchers into Horsehead Lake, where Harwood was last seen.

Thirty-six people were flown there by a Chinook helicopter Wednesday morning, plus another ten searchers on a smaller helicopter later in the afternoon.

"So (it's a) great big area and we're covering all the possibilities," said Fresno County Sheriff Lt. Kathy Curtice. "We're covering all the trails that are far away in case she got disoriented and is lost but we're also covering this rocky area in case she's close by and injured."

The Rough Fire continues to burn in the southern part of their search area.

Up until now, smoke has hindered efforts to search by air, or fly more crews in.

"They might not have been able to land at the insertion area where we needed the searchers to be," Curtice said.

But with more people on the ground in the search zone, Curtice says they're increasing their odds of finding Harwood.

They say 62-year-old Harwood, who is faster than the rest of her Sierra Club group, got ahead of them Thursday afternoon. They say she is an experienced hiker and knows how to take care of herself.

A tip from another hiker who saw foot tracks has search and rescue crews searching the area of Blackcap Mountain.

Those crews being dropped off today are being told to prepare to go five days without additional supplies.

"And we tell them five days because just because we got a flight for them in, it doesn't mean we can fly them back out because the smoke could come back in," Curtice said.

Those crews may have to hike 19 miles back to the command post at Wishon Reservoir, as new search and rescue teams rotate in to the search.

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