Emergency Services

Stay Safe This Fourth of July

Screen Shot 2023 06 21 at 6.02.00 PM

Stay Safe This Fourth of July 

SWIFTWATER RESCUE TEAM PRE-POSITIONED FOR HOLIDAY

County of Inyo offices and facilities in Tecopa, Lone Pine, Independence, and Bishop will be closed tomorrow  in observance of the July 4 holiday. Offices and facilities will re-open for business on Wednesday, July 5.

Inyo County wishes residents and visitors a happy and healthy Fourth of July, with the reminder that those  recreating outdoors need to exercise caution as runoff peaks throughout the Eastern Sierra amid soaring  temperatures. The public is strongly encouraged to obey all road closures and avoid areas with swift water  – for their safety as well as that of first responders.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for the region through Tuesday evening, with the  hottest temperatures of the year contributing to rapid snowmelt and excessive runoff. The NWS warns that  flooding of rivers, creaks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations is likely. Numerous local  waterways are already flowing near, at, or over-capacity.

A swift-water rescue team has been deployed to the Owens Valley at the request of the County and with  assistance from Big Pine Fire Chief Damon Carrington and Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil’s office. The team  arrived late last week and is essentially on call through the July 4 holiday. Local first responders are not  trained nor are they authorized to enter swift water during an emergency. Having the team available boosts  local response capabilities during one of the busiest times of the year in terms of outdoor recreation.

Obviously swift water is a serious hazard this summer. The Owens River is considered dangerous and should  be avoided. Most of the public access to the Owens River has already been closed due to extensive flooding  and severely undercut and eroding banks.

The public is strongly encouraged to avoid the river and most waterways this summer with the exception of  Diaz Lake, Millpond, Buckley Ponds, and Klondike Lake. Swiftwater dangers include water cold enough to  induce hypothermia, hidden underwater snags, and heavy debris.

The public is reminded also that recreating downstream of a dam – such as those operated by Southern  California Edison in Bishop Creek Canyon – presents certain hazards. Although the increased flows are not  believed to pose significant dam safety risks, there are treacherous currents in the creeks that should be  avoided. One slip on the wet, unstable banks or rocks can lead to a life-threatening situation.

Wildfire is also a very real danger. With the wet winter and excessive runoff has come excessive fuels on the  valley floor. And despite the profusion of water, conditions are deceptively dry. The BLM last week enacted  fire restrictions throughout the Bishop Field Office, including: no fireworks; no campfires, barbecues, or  stoves outside of agency-provided fire rings or barbecues at designated sites; no smoking outdoors unless  surrounded by a three-foot safe zone; no welding or operating torches with open flame; and no target  shooting (hot bullet fragments and exploding targets can ignite a fire).

Remember that Eastern Sierra winds plus unattended campfires create wildfires. The public is urged to  always expect wind in the Eastern Sierra and as such, to extinguish their campfires at night and before they  leave during the day and to never walk away from hot embers or coals. Anyone responsible for recklessly  allowing a campfire to become a wildfire can face prosecution, fines, and even jail time.

For more information, including where to obtain sandbags for your home or business, visit:

https://ready.inyocounty.us 

https://www.facebook.com/InyoCountySheriffsOffice 

https://ladwpeasternsierra.com/runoff2023 

https://inciweb.wildfire.gov/incident-information/cainf-inyo-national-forestflood-response

https://wsoweb.ladwp.com/Aqueduct/realtime/lvrealtime.htm 

https://www.esavalanche.org/ 

https://www.weather.gov/safety/coldwater 

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