Tree in Boise River causes 'snag' in Sunday raft trips

Tree in Boise River causes 'snag' in Sunday raft trips

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by Andrea Lutz

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KTVB.COM

Posted on July 8, 2012 at 4:59 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 5 at 11:56 AM

BOISE -- Floaters described the scene as "pure chaos," when a downed tree blocked two-thirds of the Boise River and flipped several rafters on Sunday afternoon.

Boise firefighters eventually had to order all floaters out of the water around 3 p.m., and then call the department's dive team to clean up the mess.

As boats lined the banks of the Boise River, some floaters were understandably upset.

“I think this is probably the first time we have ever been stopped on the river,” said floater Aubrey Elliot.

“This is mayhem right here,” said floater Sean Lemp.

Firefighters say the responded to the river around 3 p.m. when a raft got caught on the tree near Marden Bridge, dumping its occupants.

Boise Fire Department Battalion Chief Tom Pawek said at that point, firefighters decided to close down the river because more floaters were getting caught on the tree and getting flipped.

“It’s about a 30-inch tree and it goes out roughly 50 to 60 percent of the river,” Pawek said. “Every boat that came down was caught on the snag and dumping their occupants, and we were rescuing all them. It got to the point where we couldn't complete our task of trying to get rid of the snag and dealing with the floaters."

Staff with the Boise Fire Department even asked county-owned Barber Park to close down, and to not let more floaters in the river.

Some floaters chose to wait until the snag was cleared.

“We are going to wait it out,” said floater Kiara Johnson.

However, the majority of people picked up their rafts and tubes, and walked along the Boise Greenbelt beyond the tree's trap. Some understood, that even on the hottest of days, safety has to sometimes override fun.

“Well, they are keeping it safe,” said Mike Hardey, who came down to float the river. “It’s the safe way to go so nobody gets hurt and drowns.”

Sunday’s chaotic situation seemed to get even worse when firefighters working to remove the tree were met with poison ivy along the banks of the river.

Firefighters say a HazMat team was called in to treat those affected.

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