FRESNO, California. (KGPE) – The search continues for a man who reportedly jumped into a canal in central Fresno Tuesday morning and never came back up.
The Fresno Fire Department says they’ve received multiple calls as some experiencing homelessness try to escape the heat.
According to Battalion Chief Dan O’Meara, it was the second swift water call they received before noon. Additionally, while rescue teams were searching the canal, another homeless person jumped in.
“When it’s really hot like this and homeless folks are trying to cool off, they look at the canals and they think it’s a great opportunity to jump in and cool down. Some places in the canal are much safer than others but it’s hard to tell because the top of the water is fine but underneath is dangerous,” O’Meara said.
Because the canals stretch for miles and split into different directions, dozens of crew members are needed to search. Today, there were 30 Fresno Fire Department crew members and six engine companies.
O’Meara says these calls deplete resources in a department that’s already stretched thin dealing with one of the worst fire seasons on record.
“That’s a strain. We now have a hole within the city and we don’t have the resources to fill in those spots. It strains us, absolutely,” he said.
Thanks to the city’s 2021 budget and expected federal grants, however, the department is working on adding another 40-person recruiting class sometime this summer.
“Adding 40 more bodies is going to be a pretty substantial increase. We’re going to go from roughly 300 to 340. That’s a pretty big jump for a department our size,” O’Meara said.
There is no update regarding the search.