Off-duty Toronto firefighter goes missing on Lake Placid ski hill

The search is continuing for a 49-year-old, off-duty Toronto firefighter who went missing while on an annual ski trip to Lake Placid, New York.

The Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association (TPFFA) told Global News Thursday the man went to the village, most known for hosting the 1980 Winter Olympics, for vacation and was joined by friends, family and other off-duty and retired firefighters.

TPFFA President Frank Ramagnano said the group was skiing down Whiteface Mountain when they noticed the man never made it down the hill after the chairlifts shut down at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

The New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), the organization that manages the Whiteface Mountain Ski Centre, said crews are conducting aerial and ground searches to try and find the missing Toronto man.

ORDA spokesman Jon Lundin said more than 35 people are taking part in the search, which includes the state Department of Environmental Conservation, state police, and U.S. Border Patrol.

“We’ve searched the entire mountain,” said Lundin.

“As of [7 a.m. Thursday], we had searched up and down this mountain a total of five times.”

Whiteface Mountain is estimated to be 314 acres with roughly 35 acres of that off-limits to skiers. The slopes remained open while crews conducted the search.

“I noticed low-flying helicopters on a couple of occasions,” said skier Rod Rollins.

“On my last run down on one of the slopes, there was a ski patrol guy and a dog looking in the woods.”

Meanwhile, Ramagnano said they are not naming the missing firefighter for privacy reasons. Fellow Toronto firefighters told Global News that the missing man is a long-time firefighter and described him as ‘nice’ and ‘personable.’

Now many of them are holding onto hope that one of their own is found safe.

“We’re very concerned about the member’s safety at this point,” said Toronto firefighter Dan Vieira.

“We’re 3,000 members and a tight-knit family. We really hope there’s a positive outcome.”

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