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Workers stranded on mountain

Tue., Dec. 18, 2012, midnight

PORTLAND – Four cellphone tower workers stranded by a storm on Steens Mountain in southeast Oregon have holed up in a concrete block building at about 9,000 feet, where they had food, water and heat, authorities said Monday.

Whiteout conditions foiled an effort to rescue them by snowmobile on Monday, said Matt Fine, Harney County search and rescue coordinator, so the workers faced a third night on the mountain.

The weather was expected to improve today, Fine said.

The four men were reported warm and safe in the structure at the base of the tower they’ve been working on, with a propane-fired generator, cellphones and chargers, as well as food.

“Their lives are not in danger,” said Sheriff Dave Glerup of Harney County.

The four tried to leave the mountain in poor visibility Saturday, Glerup said. They got off the road and got stuck, spent the night in their snow vehicle and got back to the concrete structure the next day, he said.

A ground party of about 15 rescuers set out by snow cat and snowmobile on Monday and got within about 1 1/2 miles of the shelter before “snowing, blowing, zero visibility” weather turned them back, Fine said.

The crew’s employer, James Kramer of Legacy Wireless Services of Clackamas, said he’s been in touch with the workers, as have relatives.


 

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