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Crews hope sandbags will keep floodwater out of Firebaugh

By Katherine Phillips,

2023-03-15

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FIREBAUGH, Calif. ( KSEE/KGPE ) – The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office issued evacuation warnings for people in Firebaugh. They say the San Joaquin river could rise, causing flooding across the city.

The FCSO along with local police went door to door to let residents know what was going on.

Multiple CAL FIRE hand crews were deployed across the city to build a barrier out of sandbags along the banks of the river.

Crews worked for hours in front of the Riverfront Inn to protect the inn and nearby homes from a direct hit. The wall was a few feet high and three sandbags wide.

“These are areas that the department of water resources identified as low spots in the community. So this location along with another location further south where crews are going to be protecting the wastewater treatment facility,” said Battalion Chief Dan Urias.

Urias said their crews haven’t been deployed this way in decades.

“Speaking with the fire chief in Firebaugh, the last time an event like this occurred was back in 1958,” he said.

With a record snowpack and heavy rain from another atmospheric river,  Fresno County officials expect lots of water will have to be released from Millerton Lake. From there, it’ll cause rivers to rise county-wide.

Firebaugh city council member Freddy Valdez said he’s hoping the city won’t see any flooding but says they have all hands on deck to respond if the water does breech the sandbags.

“Everyone here is going to put in a helping hand to ensure everyone is safe. So, everyone who lives in Firebaugh, we all know how we operate out here. Your city officials, everyone is working day and night to ensure your safety,” Valdez said.

CAL FIRE crews are expected to be back in the area Wednesday to make sure the sandbags are held up.

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