Popular Firebaugh park flooded from recent rains, snowmelt to increase water levels

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- During wet years, the San Joaquin River steadily rises as it flows through Andrew Firebaugh Historical Park.

Picnic areas and ballfields are already flooded. Residents can catch fish in areas where they usually sit at tables.

But Police Chief Sal Raygoza says that may change because he doesn't want people stumbling into deep spots.

"I'm considering, as the water rises, closing off the river for people or for citizens," Raygoza said. "No river access."

Raygoza has been keeping a close eye not only on the river but levees as well as more water pours through an area which once served as a ferry landing.

The park is prone to flooding, but in a few days, as more water is released out of Friant Dam, the floodwaters will continue to rise. As a result, water will cover the rodeo grounds in Firebaugh, and because of that, one rodeo event has already been canceled.

The nineties are expected over the weekend, which will increase the snowmelt.

Chief Raygoza worries the flood release at Friant Dam might suddenly increase too quickly.

"We're getting about 2,000 cubic feet of water being released," he said. "We expect that number to go up to about 4,000 cubic feet from what the county is telling."

The chief says 4,000 CFS is a manageable amount though it will lead to flooding in this favorite spot.

City officials expect to see more water flow through the San Joaquin and into the park by next Wednesday.
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