Nearly 20 people rescued from Sabino Canyon on Sunday - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Nearly 20 people rescued from Sabino Canyon on Sunday

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Photo Courtesy: Rural Metro Fire Dept. Photo Courtesy: Rural Metro Fire Dept.
Photo Courtesy of Rural Metro Fire Photo Courtesy of Rural Metro Fire

UPDATE -- Rural Metro Fire Department's Jordon Baker recalls witnessing people attempting to cross through the rapid floodwaters. 

"People were crossing against this wall but what they don't realize is there's a tunnel under the bridge right here that they easily could have been sucked into," Baker said. 

Nineteen men, women and children found themselves barricaded by rising floodwater in the lower Sabino Canyon area. Rural Metro Fire deployed an inflatable raft to rescue the individuals. 

Baker noted it's not worth the risk by attempting to overcome the violent running water.

"When water's flowing over these bridges do not try to cross, especially do not try to cross with your children. Do not put your children in that kind of danger," he said.

The U.S. Forest Service's Heidi Schewel emphasized the importance of education and being prepared for the worst.

The Forest Service has signs at various stream crossings within Sabino Canyon that warn of potential flood dangers. Staff also informed visitors about the dangers of trekking during the monsoon. 

With over 20 years of experience working for the Forest Service, Schewel is well aware of the monsoon's behavior, especially around Sabino Canyon. 

"We try to provide people with what they need to have a  safe recreational experience short of closing the whole area," Schewel said. "Know before you go, know what you're getting into, know what the conditions are and keep yourself out of harms way. "

News 4 Tucson has just learned of a second rescue operation that took place on Sunday.

Rural Metro Fire Department crews rescued 19 people from lower Sabino Canyon on Sunday night.

Crews from two fire stations responded to a report of people stranded on a tram, according to Rural Metro Fire Dept. Battalion Chief John Walka.

“They were simply unable to get out as the rivers overflowed and ran fast,” Walka said.

A raft tethered to a high line was used to ferry them across the running water, Walka added. “Otherwise, they were not in immediate danger.”

No further information was immediately available.

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