Kings River remains closed in Kings County

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Stay out of the water. The Kings River is running fast and cold prompting Kings County officials to declare its first emergency closure of the year.

“I thought people would be swimming in it by now,” said local, Harold Van Heeringen.

“It’s fast. It’s cold,” added Sgt. Jeff Torres of the Kings County Sheriff’s Office.

The Kings River was put under the local emergency last Thursday.

“Just imagine 6,200 basketballs every second coming over the spillway of the dam,” said Doug Verboon, Kings County Supervisor, District 3.

That’s the threshold to close the river. But at one point, the wet weather and the big snow pack got the river moving at 8,800 cubic square feet per second.

“We have a water rescue team and they advised us to close the river at that time,” Verboon explained.

The swift flow was deemed too dangerous for boating and swimming.

“I wouldn’t get in it,” Van Heeringen said.

On Monday, the river let up to a little over 5,600 cubic square feet per second according to the county.

“If it stays that way for more than four days, we’ll reopen the river,” Verboon said.

Depending on the weather and the snow melt, a lot of Memorial Day plans could be on hold as officials watch the water.

“There are so many people out here, you can hardly fit down this little road,” Van Heeringen explained just how packed the holiday weekend usually gets on the river.

If it does re-open in time, there are some hazards to keep in mind. 

“There’s a lot of underbrush that’s going to be flowing down the river,” Sgt. Torres said.

There’s also the coldness of the water and the danger of currents.

The Kings County Sheriff’s Office water unit supervisor, Sgt. Torres says they’ll be patrolling now until the end of summer. If you do enter the water while it’s under the emergency closure…

“It’s considered illegal and you can be cited for that,” Sgt. Torres said.

The county says the local emergency is expected to be lifted this Wednesday. The topic will also be discussed during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. 

The Kings River in Fresno County remains open.

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