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'Not a safe place right now': Boise Fire says to avoid the river until it's cleared

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Posted at 6:33 PM, Jun 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-03 20:40:13-04

BOISE — Scorching hot temperatures this week have people searching for the best places to cool off. But one place to avoid for now is the Boise River.

"It is not a safe place for us to be. The water is moving quite swiftly, it’s above 1,000 cubic feet per second, so it is moving pretty good and the water is pretty cold," said Paul Roberts, Boise Fire Division chief of special operations. "But most importantly the Boise Fire Department has not had the opportunity to mitigate hazards in the river that have accumulated over the last several months or year since last float season."

Those hazards include debris, branches, tree limbs, trees, and root balls, among others.

"All of those things that can take a really fun time and make it catastrophic in seconds," Roberts said.

Once the water recedes enough the fire department will run its boat up and down the river clearing any hazardous debris.

"We look for trees that have fallen into the river, big root balls that are in the middle of the river that the typical floater might run into, get snagged up on and either get trapped on or under, or deflate their raft immediately," Roberts said. "Let's say they don’t swim so well and then the water is super cold and now they swim even worse and now they're going underwater and the current is moving quickly."

Roberts said it only takes a few seconds for someone to become trapped, something his department has already seen happen this week.

"We are asking for a couple of more weeks to mitigate those things as the water starts to come down to our typical summer flow and we can all get out there and have a really good time once those things are accomplished," he said.

Boise Fire, Parks and Rec, and Ada County Parks and Waterways will meet this week to come up with a plan to clear the water.

"Mitigating the river takes about a week depending on how much debris," Roberts said.