Rescuers combing a wilderness area in the Los Padres National Forest spotted a dog believed to have been with Arcadia firefighter Mike Herdman when he went missing five days ago, authorities said Wednesday night.
The rescuers saw the dog briefly during the afternoon in a remote area northwest of Sulphur Peak not far from Sespe Creek, said Sgt. Eric Buschow of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department. The dog took off before crews could reach the area.
"That's a positive sign," Buschow told The Times. "The belief is the dog is going to stick around in the area where its master was."
Five members of the Sheriff's Department's search and rescue team volunteered to continue scouring the area throughout the night. They will be joined by several dozen additional rescuers Thursday morning.
"We'll go full bore at first light," Buschow said.
He said about 45 rescue team members from agencies in Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange and San Luis Obispo counties took part in Wednesday's mission. They were all flown into the rugged area by helicopter.
"It's all very tedious, boulder-to-boulder" searching, Buschow said in a cellphone interview from the forest.
The 36-year-old Herdman was last seen Friday after he and a friend hiked into the Sespe Wilderness area north of Fillmore to go camping, according to authorities.
The friend said Herdman disappeared after he went chasing after his dog. He was barefoot and wearing only shorts and a T-shirt.
Authorities said there has been no sign of foul play. They said it took the friend two days to hike out of the area and alert authorities Sunday.
On Tuesday, rescue crews found footprints and Herdman's backpack. He is a paramedic and an avid outdoorsman.