Ariz. fire chief who went missing during hike found safe

Chief Gary Morris, who did not appear to be injured, said packing extra food and water extended his chances of survival

By FireRescue1 Staff

GILA COUNTY, Ariz. — An Arizona fire chief who was reported missing after setting out to hike a 51-mile trail in Arizona last week has been found safe. 

According to a press release from Gila County Sheriff Adam Shepherd, Pine-Strawberry Fire Chief Gary Morris, 73, was able to send a text to a Gila County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue coordinator at 3 p.m. on Wednesday. 

"He was called back and asked to call 911 for a GPS location," the press release said. 

Chief Morris was located and picked up by an Arizona Department of Public Safety Ranger helicopter and was transported to the Payson Airport. 

"Sheriff Shepherd would like to thank the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Pine-Strawberry Fire Department, Tonto Rim Search and Rescue, and the Gila County Payson Posse for their cooperative assistance in this mission," the press release read.

Sheriff Shepherd also thanked the first responders from around the state who offered their personnel to assist in the search and rescue efforts. 

Officials said Chief Morris does not appear to be injured, reported. 

"I got off trail," Chief Morris told the news station. "I was using GPS, the GPS routed me into a canyon where there were no trails out ... I was dead-ended and coming on dark. Rule of thumb is, don't hike in the dark. Stay put and see if rescuers can come and get you."

Chief Morris said he still had food and water while waiting for rescue crews. 

"The message I use ... pack beyond your expectations," Chief Morris said. "I went in with extra water, I went in with extra food, took a [0 degree] sleeping bag so I had all the possibilities covered and it allows me to extend my survival two or three more days."


BREAKING: Pine-Strawberry Fire Chief Gary Morris has made contact with the Gila County Sheriff's Office. Morris has been...

Posted by Payson Roundup on Wednesday, October 30, 2019


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