Missing Utah family of 5 found safe near wildfire

Associated Press

PERRY, Utah (AP) — A Utah family of five that had been missing in a remote canyon where a wildfire was burning was found alive and well on Wednesday.

Authorities found the family at 11:30 a.m. at the bottom of Perry Canyon, about 55 miles north of Salt Lake City, The Salt Lake Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/123tJHb ). They had spent the night in a cave they were exploring after losing their bearings.

The discovery provided a happy ending to a story that looked like it might turn grim.

On Tuesday night, relatives called the Box Elder County Sheriff's Office to inform them that the family didn't meet them at a trailhead as planned. The family had been dropped off on Monday with the plan of hiking in and camping overnight and then hiking back out.

A search was launched Tuesday night with dogs and a helicopter while firefighters fought a small human-caused wildfire in the same area.

Authorities feared the family may be in the path of the wildfire, which was being battled by a crew of 20 firefighters.

But the family was found a safe distance away from the flames, authorities said Wednesday.

There was speculation initially that the family may have ignited the blaze as a distress signal, but the family said they didn't start any fire, Box Elder County Sheriff's Sgt. Steve Berry said.

The family has been identified as Holly Cowcert and her daughter Mandy, 12, and David Cowcert and his two sons, Polo, 13, and Nate 12, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

The sons, Polo and Nate, told reporters that they had run out of food and were thirsty, but they were never scared because their dad is an experienced outdoorsman. They said they heard rescuers calling for them on Wednesday morning. The family lives in Perry, a small city of about 4,500 people.

The fire that was burning in the area is less than 2 acres and is expected to be contained by Thursday evening, fire officials said. They are investigating who ignited the flames.

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