An Orange County man who got lost in the desert for 11 hours near Johnson Valley Friday night diverted fire crews from a large house fire in Yucca Valley. About 5:30 p.m. Friday, fire fighters and search and rescue teams from Lucerne Valley, Hesperia, and Yucca Mesa, and the Sheriff’s Basin’s Urban Search and Rescue team, were called to an abandoned mine shaft about 18 miles east of Bessemer Mine Road near Johnson Valley. Sheriff’s Sergeant James Porter said Brian Buchanan, 27, had become separated from his friends about 3:30 p.m. while exploring an abandoned mine shaft; his friends told rescuers they heard a rock slide and then lost contact with him. After searching for two hours, they called for help. Porter said a helicopter was called in to aid in the search above ground, while searchers explored the mine. County Fire Captain Mark Murphy said rescuers called off the search about 2 a.m. During the drive back, rescuers noticed a light flashing and discovered Buchanan, uninjured, but suffering from mild hypothermia in just a pair of pants and T-shirt. Buchanan told rescuers he had escaped from the mine through a ventilation shaft and then had become lost in the desert. During the drive to and from the mine, two fire trucks became stuck in the sand, and crews had to call in a bull dozer to come pull them out. Meanwhile in Yucca Valley, fire crews from Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree, Morongo Valley, Twentynine Palms, and the Combat Center were called about 7:15 p.m. to a large house fire in the 5000 block of Mormon Lane. A neighbor, who told fire crews he was a retired fire fighter, had brought his personal fire truck to the scene and was spraying water on the 3,000-square-foot home, but County Fire Captain Rick Denison said the fire was too far gone for the house to be saved. The residents were not at home, and it’s not known if any pets were lost in the fire. The home was a total loss. The cause of the fire is under investigation. While nearly every unit from the Morongo Basin was fighting the fire, crews from Hesperia, Victorville, and Fontana were called in to cover the Basin’s fire stations.

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