ROSEBURG, ORE. — Two helicopters helped rescue a Roseburg woman missing for nine days in a wilderness southeast of Eugene — one spotted her and another plucked her out of the backcountry.
Umpqua National Forest firefighters also walked her dog out of the woods, said Emily Veale, Umpqua National Forest spokeswoman. The woman was lost in the Boulder Creek Wilderness, which features steep slopes and is littered with fallen trees from wildfires.
“It’s a pretty precarious place to be,” Veale said.
Brandy Rose Molatore, 43, had last been heard from on July 1, said Sgt. Brad O’Dell of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. A search for her began five days later, on Friday, O’Dell said. On Tuesday morning, a Douglas Forest Protective Association helicopter crew spotted Molatore near a small forest fire burning in the Boulder Creek Wilderness.
An Oregon Army National Guard helicopter was requested by the sheriff’s office to rescue Molatore because of the rugged terrain of the wilderness. The Black Hawk helicopter picked up Molatore at 1:10 p.m. Tuesday and flew her to an airstrip, where she was transferred to an ambulance. She was transported to Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg, where she was treated and released.
Umpqua National Forest firefighters had made first contact with Molatore, Veale said.
“She was dehydrated and hungry,” she said, but still mobile. The dog seemed frisky, Veale said, but it was likely dehydrated and hungry as well. Firefighters brought the dog to a search-and-rescue team, which was set to reunite it with Molatore.
Boulder Creek Wilderness covers more than 31 square miles of national forest east of Roseburg and north of Highway 138. Boulder Creek, a tributary to the North Umpqua River, flows through the wilderness.
Molatore had been walking the North Umpqua Trail, which follows the North Umpqua River, when she went missing, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. Trails into the wilderness branch off from the North Umpqua Trail.
The helicopter crew that found Molatore had been helping fight the Silver Rock Fire, dropping water with a bucket slung below the aircraft, and it happened to locate the missing hiker, according to Douglas Forest Protective Association spokesman Kyle Reed.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Veale said. There recently had been lightning near where the fire began, she added.
First reports of the fire came late last week, from a man who said he saw a wisp of smoke rising from the forest, Veale said. A camera with the Douglas Forest Protective Association also detected the blaze.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Silver Rock Fire had charred 3 acres, she said, all within the footprint of the 2008 Rattle Fire.