BUENA PARK (CNS) - Knott's Berry Farm park officials Saturday were investigating the cause of a malfunction that left 21 people stranded for nearly eight hours on a ride that was stopped about 125 feet above the ground in Buena Park.
The Sky Cabin ride became stuck at 2 p.m. Friday, according to park officials. All 20 riders and the ride operator were safely on the ground just before 10 p.m.
Fire department rescuers were called to the scene nearly three hours after the ride stalled, officials said.
"After the Knott's Berry Farm maintenance team made several attempts to bring the attraction down, we contacted the Orange County Fire Authority to assist," according to a park statement.
Technical rescue experts were among the OCFA responders at the scene, Capt. Larry Kurtz of the Orange County Fire Authority said.
Firefighters appeared to access the top of the ride through its central hub and from there rappelled down to the passenger cabin.
About 7 p.m., they began lowering the passengers, starting with children, one at a time, with each strapped to a firefighter.
The riders were safe during the rescue on the enclosed revolving observation ride, Kurtz said.
All questions about the incident were referred to Knott's officials, who did not immediately respond to phone messages or emailed questions seeking details about how many were stranded, how many children were aboard the ride, why it took three hours to call the fire department and if the attraction had malfunctioned before.
A statement posted on the park's Twitter account said, "The safety of park guests and employees is our number one priority."
"Each of Knott's rides is inspected, check-listed and properly maintained daily. Sky Cabin will remain closed until the park's investigation into the cause of the incident is completed."
The Sky Cabin was closed in May 2010 and was idle for 18 months before reopening after a remodel, the Orange County Register reported.
The ride got stuck on June 22, 2008, as it began to ascend, the newspaper reported, and within an hour, firefighters used an aerial ladder to escort 23 guests and a ride operator safely to the ground.
In the weeks that followed, the ride continued to get stuck in safety tests and technicians eventually found a problem with an electrical relay that was causing the ride to lose power as it climbed the tower, the newspaper reported.
Knott's Berry Farm is one of 13 amusement parks operated by publicly- traded Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, based in Sandusky, Ohio.
The ride is enclosed and the riders were safe, Kurtz said, and technical rescue experts were among the OCFA responders at the scene.