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Sheriffs: Kings River

Property along the Kings River near Kingsburg experienced flooding again as the waterway has swollen with melting snow run-off released from Pine Flat Dam. Fresno County Sheriffs have received a number of phone calls as the July 4 holiday approaches, but say the river remains closed until further notice.

The Kings River remains closed in Fresno County and with Pine Flat Lake at close to 95 percent capacity, officials with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office say they don't predict it will open any time soon.

That's the latest report as of Monday, July 1.

As of July 2, the Kings River has been opened in Kings County, however.

"As we approach the 4th of July, our office has been receiving several inquiries from the public on the status of the Kings River," PIO Tony Botti said in a press release. "At this time, the Kings River from Pine Flat Dam to the Tulare and Kings County lines remains closed. Our office put this order in place on June 4th. This closure is permitted under the authority of Penal Code 409.5(a) and Fresno County Ordinance 13.32.080."

Botti said there are no immediate plans to reopen the river based upon the latest information from the Army Corps of Engineers, which controls water releases at Pine Flat Dam.

"With increasing temperatures forecast for later this week, more snow melt is expected to fill the lake. Therefore, more water will likely be released downstream into the Kings River, increasing the cubic feet per second (CFS) flow. Our office does not want to open the river and then have to close it again. Once we reopen it, we plan to keep it open for the rest of the season."

To reiterate, public access to the river is denied until further notice. This includes all recreational activity such as:

  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Swimming
  • Floating

During the closure, the Sheriff’s Boating Enforcement Unit will continue to patrol the Kings River. Deputies will strictly enforce this closure and violators will be subject to citations. This infraction comes with a minimum fine of $225.

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A press release from the Kings County Sheriff's Office issued July 2 said officials there have declared the river open for recreation.

The Kings County Sheriff’s Office Water Rescue Unit reminded the public that the waterways in Kings County, although cool and refreshing, can also be a deadly encounter with tragic consequences. They ask the public to consider the following:

  • Is the water fast moving?
  • Is the water cold?
  • Are you not the best swimmer?
  • Do you have quality water equipment to include personal floatation devices, such as a life vest?

If you plan to float on the river, use a Class III life preserver, heavy duty floating devices and rafts and use an oar to push away from dangerous edges or objects.

"When floating or rafting in the Kings River, pay attention to weirs in the area where you are floating," Kings County Sheriff's Office Commander Mark Bevens said. "Pre-scout the area where you intend to raft or float. Designate and know where you can exit the river before you get caught in the deadly circumstance of going over a weir! This oftentimes meets with injury and tragic results."

Sheriff Water Rescue Units will be out enforcing safe boating and river floating practices during the July 4 holiday.

"Alcohol related offenses such as drunk in public, driving under the influence or any other alcohol related issue will be strictly enforced. Use common sense for a safe 4th and summer 2019," Bevens said.

Contact the Kings County Sheriff’s Office Water Rescue Unit at 469-2875 for more information or safety tips.

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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