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Rescues take place on Poudre River as water levels and temperatures rise

Rescues take place on Poudre River as water levels and temperatures rise
Rescues take place on Poudre River as water levels and temperatures rise 03:19

A kayaker and a tuber had to be rescued from the Poudre River in the past week as both temperatures and the river level rise. Poudre Fire Authority is warning those planning to get into the iconic northern Colorado river to plan accordingly and to come prepared with life vests and helmets.

The Poudre River is a critical resource for irrigation and drinking water for millions of people. It also serves as a free and easy way to cool down during the warm days of the summer. However, recent rainstorms and increased snowpack have lead to higher river levels and quicker speeds of flow.

"(Getting in the river) is fun. Everything has its dangers. Swift water specifically, there are hazards within the river," said Tim Murphy, Poudre Fire Captain of Engine One.

Murphy said PFA recently responded to a scene where six tubers lost their tubes and one was stranded in the water. The current was moving so quickly that the tuber needed the swift water rescue team to help them get to the shore for safety.

"It is deceiving, the power of that water. It looks like it is hardly moving," Murphy said.

Though the water appears to be calm in some areas, below it can be moving very rapidly. And, the threat of hazards below the water can result in people either being caught in the water.

PFA's Kaitlyn Truelove said the river on Memorial Day was running just over 1,000 cubic feet per second. She said that is much like having the force of 1,000 basketballs coming at you at once.

Fort Collins recently invested in the Poudre White Water Park, an area just north of Old Town Fort Collins that welcomes families and the adventurous to get into the water and cool off.

However, the water is still dangerous, as are the rocks in the water.

Residents like Max Roberts said they enjoy using the location as a way to cool off, get adventurous and try new things all at once. Roberts recently purchased a surfboard made for rivers and decided to try it for the first time at the park.

"I just brought it out for the first time trying it. I don't know much about them, I'm just learning at this point," Roberts said. "I figured I might as well try it, this is just ten minutes away from home."

Roberts admitted the flow of the river was intimidating and should be approached with caution.

"I know about all the accidents we have in the river. With the flow rate right now, it is definitely a concern," Roberts said.

Truelove encouraged people to always bring safety gear with them, no matter what activity they plan on doing.

"(Life vests and helmets) are two of the best tools you can have to keep yourself safe, even for a tuber we ask that you wear these," Truelove said.

During runoff the water becomes its fastest after midnight, closer to two in the morning, in cities like Fort Collins. That is due to the snowpack melting in the mountains and taking time to get down toward the front range.

"The water is cold, it is coming from the snowpack," Murphy said. "All moving water is dangerous in this river."

Those planning on recreating in the river are encouraged to download the River App and check their local community's websites for flow rates and warnings about potential dangers in the water.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story stated that there were 7 recent rescues, instead of 2. Authorities contacted CBS News Colorado on Tuesday with this clarification.

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