Photo courtesy Multnomah County Sheriff.
UPDATE: The Austin Fire Department has confirmed that Devin Paez has been found.
Oregon search and rescue teams are combing a mountain for an Austin firefighter who missing while on a hike with friends. Austin firefighter Devin Paez was last seen Thursday at 5:30 pm when he set out alone ahead of three friends on a hike at Larch Mountain in Oregon.
Paez's friends, who include two other Austin firefighters, grew worried when he failed to show up at the trailhead. "They waited for a little bit and got concerned as it got dark and decided to call 911 and that's when we became involved," said Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Captain Steve Aexander.
Mutnomah County Sheriff's Office Captain Steve Alexander told FOX 7 by phone that search and rescue teams were deployed to the mountain at 1:30 Friday morning with a specific focus on what's called Sherrard Point where he was last seen.
"We covered 20 miles of trail. We're just now transitioning into phase two. We've called in additional resources from other agencies in the area," said Alexander.
Alexander says with such thick forestry, it is easy to get turned around... Especially in the dark.
"Once it got dark, if you didn't have any supplies, as we understand he left his gear with the group when he separated. If you don't have any supplies, food and water and a flashlight after dark you're not going to be able to see anything. You can't see your hand in front of your face," said Alexander.
Back in Austin, the fire department released a statement on its Facebook page with a photo of Paez. It ends with this request: "We would greatly appreciate your thoughts and prayers for Devin to be found safe and sound, and for his family as they await word."
Fire Association President Bob Nicks's son graduated the academy with Paez six months ago.
"So there's some real intimate connections there for me, but all the firefighters, a lot of the firefighters, know him already. He's a well-liked person on the job. It's really terrible what's going on," said Nicks.
Nicks is in contact with the rescue teams and says he has the utmost confidence in them.
"We're hoping for the best. In the firefighting world you know you don't always get the best outcome. He's certainly in our thoughts and prayers and we're doing everything we can at this point," said Nicks.