MINTURN, Colo. (CBS4) — It wasn’t a rescue, but it lessened the chances for one in the immediate future.
Members of the Eagle River Fire Protection District took the water ahead of recreationists last week to remove part of a large tree that had fallen during the winter. The tree’s length spanned the Eagle River south of Minturn, creating a hazard for rafters and kayakers who will soon be launching their crafts.
“It’s unusual for the Fire District to undertake a project such as this,” explained ERFPD Fire Chief Karl Bauer. “We’re not in the business of maintaining the river, but this particular tree posed such a threat to the public that we felt it was in everyone’s best interest to mitigate the hazard.”
Colorado’s runoff trickles into the state’s rivers beginning in May and reaches its peak in June. As springtime temperatures rise, so do water levels. And the potential for fun on the waterways.
And, unfortunately, the chances for misfortune.
ERFPD’s two-hour operation removed most of the tree, but left part of it to maintain “the natural ecosystem and important fish habitat.”
Rescuers were thethered downstream with throw-bags in case the chainsaw operator took an unplanned plunge.
Tracy LeClair, spokesperson for the fire department, asked river users to beware of “strainers” during their time in the rapids.
“Strainers are fallen trees, bridge pilings, undercut rocks or anything else that allows the current to flow through it while holding you,” LeClair stated. “Strainers are deadly!”
LeClair also strongly suggested to never run a river without a guide or someone with previous experience in that portion of it.