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Search suspended for missing firefighter

Santa Barbara, Calif. – Water rescue teams continue the search for Sean Fleming, a 30th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, along the coastline here Friday, June 25, 2010. Mr. Fleming was last seen June 19 kayaking at Gaviota State Beach. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bryan Boyette)

Santa Barbara, Calif. – Water rescue teams continue the search for Sean Fleming, a 30th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, along the coastline here Friday, June 25, 2010. Mr. Fleming was last seen June 19 kayaking at Gaviota State Beach. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bryan Boyette)

Santa Barbara, Calif. – Volunteers keep watch for missing Vandenberg firefighter, Sean Fleming, along the coastline here Friday, June 25, 2010. Mr. Fleming was last seen June 19 kayaking at Gaviota State Beach. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bryan Boyette)

Santa Barbara, Calif. – Volunteers keep watch for missing Vandenberg firefighter, Sean Fleming, along the coastline here Friday, June 25, 2010. Mr. Fleming was last seen June 19 kayaking at Gaviota State Beach. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bryan Boyette)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The five-day search for Vandenberg AFB firefighter Sean Fleming, which brought scores of emergency response personnel together from areas all along the Central Coast, was suspended at 6 p.m. June 25.

"Our condolences go out to Sean's family and friends," said Col. Richard Boltz, 30th Space Wing commander. "Team Vandenberg will continue to support them during this extraordinarily difficult time."

Fleming's kayak and backpack were found, but searchers, after covering more than a hundred miles of coastline from Point Conception down to the Ventura County Line and more than 170 square miles of ocean with both air and sea assets, were unable to locate Fleming. "We covered a vast area using all the resources we could muster," said Wayne Seda, assistant fire chief and incident commander for the search. "We've got a sense of closure in knowing we've done everything we could do, but closure won't be fully realized untilwe can bring Sean home."

"Even though the search has been suspended, Sean will not be forgotten," said Dan Ardoin, Vandenberg Air Force Base Fire Department division chief. "We've got a very tight-knit community-we'll remain vigilant and we ask people throughout the area for their vigilance in identifying anything that may help us recover Sean."

Officials have distributed flyers at various key locations along the coast with information on who people can call if they find anything that may help lead to Fleming's recovery.

Dozens of search and rescue personnel have taken part of the search, which launched June 21 after Fleming's father filed a missing person's report. Fleming's backpack and kayak were found mid-day June 22, after which time the Coast Guard and Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue suspended their searches. At 6 p.m. June 22, The Vandenberg Air Force Base fire department, previously in a support role, assumed operational control of the search, which continued in conjunction with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

"The outpouring of support from organizations along the Central Coast has been nothing short of amazing," said Seda. Agencies involved in the search include the Vandenberg Hot Shots and water rescue teams and off duty firefighters from Arroyo Grande, Santa Maria, Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara City, Lompoc, San Luis Obispo, Montecito, Oxnard, Carpentaria/Summerland, and Ventura County. Civil Air Patrol and Air National Guard also provided assistance. Furthermore, food and supplies were donated from dozens of commercial and private organizations.

More information will be released as it becomes available.