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Missing Arizona Fire Chief Found Safe

Software took chief down a wrong wilderness route

FirefighterNation Staff

PAYSON, Arizona – “I’m gonna go home to the hot tub,” is how Pine-Strawberry Fire Chief Gary Morris summed up being located by search and rescue crews after being lost in the Mazatzal Wilderness, according to AZ Family.

Chief Morris, 73, was reported missing Tuesday morning when he failed to call in that he had completed his hike.

He was hiking the Arizona Trail from Sunflower to the Doll Baby Ranch across the Mazatzal Wilderness.

Morris told AZ Family that new routing software took him down a wrong path and out of cellphone range.

He ended up in a dead-end canyon and decided to spend the night there and hike to a peak the next day to be able to send a text.

The Gila County Sheriff’s Office received a text message from Morris at approximately 3:00 a.m. Once his GPS location was known an Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter was called in to lift Morris out of the wilderness.

Uninjured, Morris said he was packed for all possibilities and that getting taken down a wrong route won’t deter him for going on future hikes.