5 hikers rescued south of Vail Lake

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TEMECULA (CNS) – Five hikers are counting their blessings Sunday after being rescued from a Cleveland National Forest trail south of Vail Lake, authorities said.

They were reported missing around 1 p.m. Saturday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service lists the 13.2 mile hike as moderately difficult.

After searching for several hours in “excessive” heat, firefighters were able to locate the outdoor enthusiasts 3-5 miles up Dripping Springs Trail.

The rescuers were able to walk two victims out, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

The rest were airlifted by helicopter.

One of the hikers was driven to a local hospital by an ambulance with minor injuries.

Four hikers declined medical care, after being evaluated by paramedics.

Fire officials are reminding the public that a heat warning has been issued by the National Weather Service.

“Please consider activities that don’t put your life and the lives of our first responders at risk of heat related illnesses,” a county fire spokesperson said.