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Mellow Fourth Of July
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There were plenty of illegal sparklers going off in the air as well as legal fireworks lighting up the night sky and city streets this hot July 4 holiday. This family on Greger Street was having a grand time with their safe and sane fireworks, unlike the people who eschewed safety and legalities for the commercial sparklers that continued to light up the sky into the night. Luckily, there were no firework-related fires, according to Oakdale City Fire Department. Aside from the occasional, teeth-rattling boom of an M-80, the night was fairly quiet in terms of emergency calls. - photo by Kim Van Meter/The Leader
Emergency responders likely exhaled a collective sigh of relief as the Fourth of July holiday passed without much of a hiccup and with only one notable rescue on the Stanislaus River involving a 90-year-old woman.
In spite of the copious amount of illegal fireworks lighting up the night sky throughout the region, there were very few fire-related incidents in the City of Oakdale or the surrounding area.
“There were no real fires, nothing big,” said Oakdale Rural Fire Protection District Engineer Ross Ardis. “I thought it was going to be much busier.”
Ardis happened to be in the right place at the right time on Monday, July 4, however, when a commercial raft capsized near the Russian Rapids, dumping all three occupants, which included a 90-year-old woman, into the swiftly moving Stanislaus River water. Ardis said he was training with the Army Corps when he saw the boat hit a tree and capsize.
All three were wearing life jackets but the elderly victim’s jacket didn’t appear to fit properly and she was sinking, said Ardis.
One occupant was hanging onto a tree when rescuers reached him.
“It was really lucky for them that we were training and were right there,” Ardis said. “It could’ve been a lot worse.”
The victims refused medical aid and there no injuries.
The Bureau of Reclamation lowered the flow into the river to 1,500 cfs over the holiday weekend to lessen the danger to holiday revelers enjoying the river on hot summer weekend, but the flow returned to 2,000 cfs on Tuesday, July 5.
Neighboring Riverbank posted signs warning of the river danger at Jacob Myers Park on the Stanislaus to alert potential swimmers and boaters, and signs also remained up regarding the high flow and need for life jackets at McHenry Recreation Area in nearby Escalon.