On Thursday afternoon, April 20th, firefighters with the Fresno Fire Department rescued two people and a dog who were in an inflatable kayak and got themselves into a dangerous situation on the San Joaquin River.
As the kayakers drifted downstream, they drifted into trees, which popped their kayak. They were able to call 911 for help. Fresno County Sheriff’s deputies and Fresno firefighters responded to safely get them off the river. Deputies then issued the two people citations for illegally accessing the river.
One of the kayakers told deputies, “I am an experienced kayaker, but the water is crazy out there right now.”
In response to heavy winter storms creating high water levels and hazardous conditions on the Kings and San Joaquin Rivers, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office issued a closure of these rivers to recreational users on March 14th, 2023. Sheriff John Zanoni put this order in place by utilizing Fresno County Ordinance 13.32.080, which serves in the best interest of public safety. Anyone accessing the rivers are considered to be in violation of Penal Code 409.5(c), unauthorized entry to an area closed for emergency purposes. This infraction comes with a minimum fine of $225.00.
The conditions of our waterways will only become more dangerous in the coming months as snow melts and dams release even more water into the rivers. There is no timetable of when rivers will be reopened for recreational use. Water levels are being monitored on a daily basis and a decision to reopen the rivers will be made once these extraordinary dangerous conditions improve.