Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


Off-Duty Firefighter Vanishes In The Mountains During Camping Trip

LAist relies on your reader support.
Your tax-deductible gift today powers our reporters and keeps us independent. We rely on you, our reader, not paywalls to stay funded because we believe important news and information should be freely accessible to all.

Rescue crews are searching for an off-duty Arcadia firefighter who went missing nearly a week ago while he was camping out in the Fillmore area of Los Padres National Forest.

Mike Herdman, 36, disappeared after he and his friend and fellow firefighter, Taylor Byars, left their campsite on Friday evening to chase after Herdman's dog who had run away, according to KTLA. The two were separated, and when Herdman didn't return, Byars went on a two-day hike to get out of the forest so he could notify authorities.

The 7-year firefighter veteran who's known to be an outdoorsman, was barefoot and only wearing a t-shirt and shorts when he disappeared. When search crews got to the campsite on Monday, they found his backpack and footprints, the L.A. Times reported. They found more footprints near a creekbed the next day. And on Wednesday spotted a dog they believe to be Herdman's near Sespe Creek, not too far from where he was last seen chasing his dog.

There are more than 50 people searching for Herdman by horseback, air, and on foot. Experts from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, who have skills searching for people in rugged terrains, are expected to arrived today to aid in the search.

Support for LAist comes from

“In this particular case, there’s a lot of cliffs, a lot of large boulders," Reserve Chief Mike Leum of the L.A. County sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team told KTLA. "He could easily have fallen and be injured and underneath one of those, so we have to look under every nook and cranny."

Herdman, who has a wife and daughter, has had a lot of experience backpacking in the wilderness. Sgt. Eric Buschow of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said that the weather conditions, which are mild in the daytime and lows in the 40s during the evenings are survivable.