Dozens of people trapped in lodge by snow finally freed
Guests and staff at Montecito Sequoia Lodge had been trapped since last weekend.
More than 120 people who were stranded in a snowbound Sierra Nevada resort for five days have been freed.
Up to 7ft of snow trapped the guests and staff at Montecito Sequoia Lodge in Sequoia National Forest on Sunday.
US Forest Service spokesman Alicia Embrey said crews had to travel by snowmobile to get to the lodge in the mountains east of Fresno on Wednesday morning, when they ensured everyone was safe. They returned on Thursday with additional supplies.
Heavy equipment was then brought in to clear more than 20 fallen trees and eight miles of deep snow on the road leading to the lodge, allowing everyone to finally leave the property.
Ms Embrey said the group had enough food and other supplies to remain comfortable, though many had suffered extreme boredom.
“Physically they were fine,” Ms Embrey said. “They were obviously happy to go home.”
Joel Keeler had posted several videos of his experience at the lodge on Twitter.
In one post on Tuesday, he said: “It’s cold, clear and beautiful, but we’re still snowed in!
“They are working hard to clear the road… Still a lot of driveway left tho!”
On Thursday, he posted that guests were finally going to go home, sharing a video of the cleared road and a line of vehicles snaking their way out between towering banks of snow.
The snow that trapped the guests began falling last Friday, blanketing the area with 4-7ft by Saturday night.
Meanwhile, another winter storm is on the way to the region.
Meteorologists have issued a winter storm warning for the southern Sierra Nevada which forecasts more snow, high winds and potentially hazardous conditions including falling trees and slick roads.
The Forest Service urged visitors to travel with extreme caution.
“The most recent storm has left very little room to manoeuvre and nowhere to put new snow,” a statement said.
“The trees are snow and ice-laden and the accumulating new snow will cause failures.”