Firefighters rescue transients after flood destroys camp


RED BLUFF, Calif. - The recent rain has been a blessing for most, but a curse for a few. Today in Red Bluff a group of transients had to be rescued by the Red Bluff Fire Department.

They were living in a dry stream bed in the East Sand Slough when the water from the Sacramento River flooded in, inundating their campsite.

RBFD was called by a woman who walked through the waist deep water to safety. Her companion, though, was trapped by the rising waters due to a medical condition.

Both were rescued and taken to St. Elizabeth Community Hospital in Red Bluff. The woman was treated for hypothermia and the man for an unspecified ailment.

Red Bluff Fire Chief Jon Bennett said the slough is not a good area to set up camp.

"It's extremely hazardous," Bennett said. "But they move back in. It's an area they like because it's out of view and there's a lot of space to set up camps."

It certainly is dangerous. Several months ago a fire tore through the slough destroying their camp. Luckily it struck during the middle of the day so most of the residents were away from their homes.

Three years ago the slough flooded stranding three people on an island. In that instance the water was so high a CHP helicopter had to be called in to rescue the transients. Unfortunately one of the rescued men tried to return to the island to rescue a dog, was swept away by the flood waters and drowned.

Because of the fire and flood threat the hope is that fewer people will seek refuge in the slough but it is a very hard area to patrol. There are no roads leading into it and there are some areas with very thick brush.

"It's kind of a no-man's land area where the city and county meet," Bennett said. "We don't have a lot of control over that area, it's difficult to access and difficult to police."

Neighbors say there had been between five and eight people living in the slough. They hope the flood waters help to clean out some of the detritus left by the encampment.