SWEET HOME — Staff from the Linn County Road Department’s bridge crew and the Sweet Home Fire & Ambulance District have removed a large wooden burl from the Calapooia River near McKercher Park where two children were recently rescued in separate incidents.
The site, about a mile west of the community of Crawfordsville, is a popular swimming area, especially during the recent nearly 100-degree days.
The incidents involved a 10-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl, both of whom had gotten caught on the burl, although it was believed to be a log at the time of the rescues.
Bystanders were credited with assisting with both rescues. At least 10 bystanders held the boy’s head above water until the rescue team could extricate him.
In addition to Sweet Home Fire & Ambulance, the Linn County Sheriff’s Office and Brownsville Fire District assisted with the situation.
A burl is a large defect in a tree caused by an injury or bug infestation, which results in a large round growth. In this case, the burl was more than 30 inches wide.
Monday, the Linn County bridge crew removed the burl using hooks and a come-along winch, and staff from Sweet Home Fire & Ambulance dived into the area to check for further debris.
“Our bridge crew is used to working in swift water,” Parks Director Brian Carroll said. “They remove debris from around bridges all the time.”
Carroll said no one was certain what was in the water until they started the work and Sweet Home Fire dived underwater to examine the area.
“This doesn’t mean the spot is clear; things change constantly, and people need to be cautious,” Carroll said. “It’s a natural river and hazards come and go. Last night, something could have moved in there.”
Carroll said signs are being posted to make people more aware of potential hazards.
“There are some large potholes there as well, and anything can float or sink into them,” he said. “What was safe a week ago may not be safe today.”
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