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High-flowing rivers lead to rescues on the Poudre River in Fort Collins

The Poudre Fire Authority had to rescue six people over the weekend from a dangerous part of the river.

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — High flowing rivers are creating dangerous situations on the water in Northern Colorado. 

Rescue teams spent their weekends responding to call after call of kayakers and tubers in need of help.

The Poudre Fire Authority rescued six people from one spot this weekend. They stopped another two from getting stuck. Poudre Fire Public Information Officer Annie Bierbower said the department doesn’t usually have to start making rescues this early in the year.

"Typically they start towards the end of May, early June is when we see that uptick. This year we had our first river rescue on May 1," Bierbower said. "We actually don’t recommend recreating on the river, tubing, kayaking, stretches like this, while it’s flowing this high and this fast."

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Snowmelt coming down from the mountains feeds rivers across the state, leading to rescues when fast flows meet dangerous sections of water.

When logs and debris get jammed up on bridges or other parts of the river, it can create a precarious situation in the river called a "strainer" where people can get pinned to the debris. 

"There is always the risk for injury, especially with something like this," Bierbower said. "People can become pinned and actually begin to get sucked under the strainer.

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"While the river is flowing this high, this fast, this cold, it’s not what we would call safe."

The Whitewater Park in Fort Collins was shut down over the weekend because of high and fast flowing water. It opened Monday morning, as officials urged people to take caution while recreating on the river. 

"We love the Poudre River. It is absolutely a community treasure. But it can also be very dangerous," Bierbower said. "All six of the people who were rescued here this weekend were wearing life vests. Without those life vests, that is a very tried and true example of how those rescues could’ve ended differently."

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