Kings County declares local state of emergency after ​Pine Flat Dam flood release

LATON, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Pine Flat Dam flood release that started just over one week ago is sending lots of water down the Kings River - so much so that Kings County officials are telling people to stay out.

Kings County declared a state of local emergency on Thursday, ordering the closure of the river for recreation, including boating, tubing, and swimming.

"We have a water unit that's available all the time and they advised us yesterday that the water was too cold, too fast, too swift to rescue people and they advised us to close the river until the flows came down to a sustainable level of about 6500 cubic feet per second," said Kings County supervisor Doug Verboon.

On Friday, the outflow from Pine Flat Dam hovered around the 7300 cubic feet per second range.

Think 7,300 basketballs per second.

Last Friday, it was as high as 8600 CFS.

"So this is the most water I've seen in here so far, since I've been here."

Anthony Salinas has lived in Hanford for a little more than a year.

He likes to fish, and recently he's been casting his line from the Laton-Kingston Park.

But between the hazard signs and the naked eye, he has no plans to actually go into the water.

"You can see there's felled logs and stuff, and you can see the current running past them, and you can definitely see how fast the current's going. It's pretty strong," he says.

The Kings River Water Association says they expect the current level of release from Pine Flat Dam to continue through May and possibly even through June, adding that the current level is meeting the demand of their member irrigation districts.

As for the other counties, Fresno and Tulare Counties have not shut down activities on the Kings River yet.

But as always, they're keeping a close eye on conditions.
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