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Swift-water rescue teams across L.A. area deploy as storm approaches

December 21, 2010 |  9:14 pm

Swift-water rescue crews were deploying Tuesday night as a strong Pacific storm moved toward Southern California.

In San Bernardino County, rescuers were patrolling areas prone to flooding, officials said. Earlier Tuesday, crews made two rescues in Hesperia when vehicles tried to cross the rain-swollen Mojave River, which had risen to 17 feet in some areas.

Near Rock Springs Road, a driver had to be plucked from his vehicle by a helicopter after he became trapped by torrents of water, the San Bernardino County Fire Department said.

Earlier, another man in the same area was rescued when his truck became trapped in the water. The current was so powerful, officials said, that rescuers had to use a skip loader to reach the man.

"Both drivers drove around barricades," Fire Department spokeswoman Tracey Martinez told The Times. "They obviously misjudged the flow of the river."

In Los Angeles, five swift-water rescue squads had been pre-deployed at locations around the city. Officials warned that water levels in storm channels could rise quickly and trap unsuspecting people.

"Stay out of the hills, stay out of the flood control channels," Los Angeles Fire Department Battalion Chief Jack Wise warned during an afternoon news conference.


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-- Robert J. Lopez