5 Rafters, 2 First Responders Rescued After Getting Stranded on Ore. River Damaged by Fires
Seven people had to be rescued from an Oregon River on Sunday after becoming stranded in an area that had been damaged by wildfires, according to authorities.
Police said they received a 911 call on Sunday around 3 p.m. reporting that five people had become stranded in the Santiam River, which is located east of Marion County's Niagra Park.
The caller told police that the group was floating on rafts and not wearing life jackets when they encountered rapids in the river and became stranded, their post stated.
"Two of the rafters held onto a burnt log while three others were on a rock in the river," the sheriff's office explained in their post. "None of them had required personal flotation devices with them."
Emergency crews quickly arrived at the scene to pull the rafters to safety, police said.
However, it was no easy task as the area of the river where the group was stranded "is difficult to access due to steep terrain and damage from the 2020 wildfires," according to the sheriff's office.
The Salem Fire Department (SFD) confirmed in their Facebook post that they were among the first responders who arrived at the scene to help with the rescue.
The Oregon Army National Guard, Clackamas Fire District, Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue, and Oregon State Police, among others, also helped, per the sheriff's department.
Police said the first responders were able to get personal flotation devices to all five people in the group before their raft overturned, causing two rescuers to also become stranded.
Once this occurred, additional agencies were called to the scene, including a helicopter from the Oregon Army National Guard.
A total of six people — four rafters and two rescue personnel — were airlifted to safety, while one rafter was successfully rescued by teams on the water, police noted.
Despite the harrowing ordeal, no one suffered serious injuries, and only one rafter was taken to a hospital for evaluation, according to the sheriff's department.
In their post, the SFD credited the "swift" actions of the responding agencies for preventing something worse from happening.
"The combined effort resulted in the rescue of five people from the Santiam River," the fire department wrote. "The teams used swift water rescue, rescue swimmers, rope rescue, and air support to rescue these people. Great Job to all of the responders involved!"
RELATED VIDEO: Watch the Dramatic Rescue of California Man from Edge of Waterfall
Following the incident, police urged residents to be careful when venturing out on the river and noted how risky it can be during the summer season.
"This event is a strong reminder that with the weather heating up, the heavy flow of the water, and the waters being cold, this is a dangerous time," they wrote in their post.
"Please be mindful and use extreme caution when swimming or floating on the river," police added. "It is required to bring personal flotation devices when floating down the river."