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River rescue numbers increase dramatically in Eau Claire

Eau Claire (WQOW) – High water in the area has led to a rise in water rescues.

So far in 2019, the Eau Claire Fire Department has been dispatched to 35 water rescues as compared to 10 for all of last year.

In fact, this weekend alone matched the number of swift water rescues for all of 2018 with rescue crews pulling two people to safety in a swift rescue. A swift rescue is when a boat is not needed to help pull someone out.

Deputy Chief Allyn Bertrang said high water levels mean the rivers simply are not safe right now.

Bertrang said a lot of the rescues have been happening at a particular spot on the Eau Claire River near the Dewey Street bridge.

“The water is moving quickly. There is rock in the water which creates rapids but there’s also a lot of logs in the river right here and a lot of strainers along side the rivers. Even underneath the bridges themselves have some places where people can get caught,” Bertrang said.

He added kayakers have had to yell for help and luckily people were on the Dewey Street bridge at the time and able to call 911.

Bertrang said crews cannot stop people from going out on the river when water levels are hight, but said there are safer ways to enjoy the water such as kayaking on Half Moon Lake or other calmer waters.

Shannon Satterlee

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