Chief: Rescue of two men demonstrates dangers of icy water

Sean C. Morgan

Three firefighters helped two adult males cross Quartzville Creek Friday evening after they were unable to make their way back across the river.

Responding to about milepost 18 on Quartzville Road were rescue technicians Ron Carter and Jonathan Lemar along with volunteer firefighter Eric Galster.

Fire Chief Dave Barringer said the two males, who were in their 20s, “made their way across the river and couldn’t find their way back.”:

They initially said it was too cold, deep and swift for them to cross again, he said.

With swift, shallow water, the rescuers were unable to use a boat, Barringer said. Tied to a safety line, Carter crossed the river on foot and walked the men back to an area with calmer water. He put personal flotation devices on them and hooked them to a rope to bring them back across the water.

“The biggest problem is the water’s cold, especially in the river,” Barringer said. Even when it’s hot out, the rivers are still cold. Cold, swift water can be dangerous even then, difficult for people to cross if they lose feeling in their feet.

As summer gets under way, Linn County Sheriff Bruce Riley is reminding citizens to be safe and compiled a list of summer safety tips.

Safety While Traveling:

– Carry an emergency supply kit in your vehicle;

– Let someone know your destination, route and when you expect to arrive;

– Know your route and check road conditions beforehand and throughout the day;

– Buckle up and observe speed limits;

– Avoid driving distractions such as eating, cell phone conversations and texting; and

– Avoid the use of alcohol when you are going to be driving, and use a designated driver.

Safety While Swimming & Boating

– Check weather and water conditions beforehand and be aware of cold water temperatures;

– Always swim with a friend and stay in designated swimming areas;

– Provide constant supervision to children in or near the water; and

– Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket

– Protect yourself from the sun by applying a waterproof sunblock.

Safety While Camping

– Pack plenty of food, water, clothing and blankets;

– Keep a safe distance from wild animals;

– Practice good campfire safety and never leave a fire unattended;

– Check for fire restrictions in your camping area at; and

– Inform others where you will be camping and when you plan to return.

For added safety, deputies are also ramping up for extra patrols scheduled for the summer, as well as saturation patrols during peak usage periods.

This includes full and part-time deputies assigned to Mountain and Marine Patrol.

Their role is to bolster patrols and increase safety in the recreation areas of the Quartzville Corridor and Detroit Lake campgrounds within Linn County.

Riley would like to remind everyone that no dispersed camping is allowed on Army Corps of Engineer lands or along Quartzville Road. Those illegally camping will be contacted and could be charged with trespassing.

For more information on camping in the Quartzville Corridor, visit

Visit the Keep Oregon Green website, for other wildfire prevention tips.

The Oregon Department of Forestry offers these reminders:

Safety with Campfires

– Know before you go. Call your local forestry or fire district to learn if there are any current campfire restrictions at your recreation destination. An interactive map of Oregon’s fire restrictions is available at:

Tom Fields, ODF’s fire prevention coordinator, says the map continues to improve and is “an excellent tool for folks to use from home or from their mobile device.”

– Kick the campfire habit this summer. Portable camp stoves are a safer option than campfires at any time of year. Areas that prohibit campfires outside maintained campgrounds with established firepits often allow camp stoves.

– Select the right spot. Where campfires are allowed, avoid building the fire near your tent, structures, vehicles, shrubs or trees and be aware of low-hanging branches overhead. Clear the site down to mineral soil, at least five feet on all sides, and circle it with rocks. Store unused firewood a good distance from the fire.

– Keep your campfire small. A campfire is less likely to escape control if it is kept small. A large fire may cast hot embers long distances.

Add firewood in small amounts as existing material is consumed.

– Attend your campfire at all times. A campfire left unattended for even a few minutes can grow into a costly, damaging wildfire.

Stay with your campfire from start to finish until it is dead out. That ensures any escaped sparks or embers can be extinguished quickly, and it is required by state law.

– Never use gasoline or other accelerants.

Don’t use flammable or combustible liquids, such as gasoline, propane or lighter fluid, to start or increase your campfire.

Once the fire starts, wait until the match is cold and then discard it in the fire.

– Have water and fire tools on site. Have a shovel and a bucket of water nearby to extinguish any escaped embers. Before you leave, drown all embers with water, stir the coals, and drown again. Repeat until the fire is dead out. If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.

– Burn only wood. State regulations prohibit the open burning of any material that creates dense, toxic smoke or noxious odors. Burning paper and cardboard can also easily fly up to start new fires.

Escaped campfires can be costly.

Oregon law requires the proper clearing, building, attending and extinguishing of open fires at any time of year.

A first-time citation carries a $110 fine. But by far the biggest potential cost is liability for firefighting costs if your campfire spreads out of control. These can range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars or more.