Flowing rivers are dangerous but another water danger lurks closer to home

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As temperatures inch their way closer to the triple-digit mark, first responders are driving home the importance of water safety.

Fresno, Kings, and Tulare counties have closed their portions of the Kings River that's flowing at more than 10,000 cubic feet per second. But there's a threat lurking much closer to home.

"We have a lot of canals in the city of Fresno that doesn't have fencing they don't have railings," said Fresno Fire water rescue engineer, Justin Simmons. "They're extremely dangerous and they're not meant for people to go in at any point."

Simmons says their swift water training covers both rivers and canals, but in his opinion, the canals are more dangerous.

"The water is consistently moving the same all the way through," he said. "It's typically a certain depth and the waters moving very fast and it's very cold."

This year alone, Fresno Fire has conducted eight swift water rescues, including one in April where they pulled a man who fell into the fast-moving water near Blackstone and Olive.

"It doesn't look like that water is moving quickly but water is very heavy and just a little bit of speed can sweep a person's feet from underneath them very difficult to swim against a current," said Fresno Irrigation District president, Ryan Jacobsen.

Jacobsen says this irrigation season will likely last through October because of a wet spring and a massive snowpack.

"That water is making its way down to the natural tributaries diverted into canal systems and flowing through the urban environment out to the rural areas to feed agriculture," he said.

When it comes to canals, first responders remind people not to get in them. As for the closed Kings river, anyone caught in the river while it's closed will face a fine of more than $200.
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