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Billings firefighters rescue two floaters in Yellowstone River Saturday

Posted at 3:52 PM, Sep 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-06 17:52:23-04

Billings firefighters rescued two floaters stranded on an island in the Yellowstone River in Billings Saturday, according to Billings Fire Battalion Chief Jason Lyon.

Lyon said a mother, father and daughter were floating on the Yellowstone River somewhere between the Blue Creek Fishing Access and Auto Auction of Montana on 4432 South Frontage Road.

The family were wearing life jackets and riding pool inner tubes not made for river conditions, Lyon said.

The family had their tubes tied together, but became detached from one another around 7:40 p.m. The father was able to make it to the south riverbank, but the but the mother and daughter became stranded on an island.

The family had access to cell phones and were able to call for help, Lyon said.

Billings firefighters launched two rescue watercraft carrying three firefighters shortly after 8 p.m. from the Blue Creek Fishing Access.

The water rescue team doesn't work at night due to the lack of light and unforeseen obstacles in the river. Lyon said the rescue team captain made the call to launch, believing there would be enough light to get the rescue completed.

While en route to the mother and daughter, one of the watercraft experienced mechanical issues and was unable to start when the motor sucked up debris from the bottom of the low-flowing river.

The second watercraft was able to make it to the victims and bring one to safety. The second craft then went back to pick up the second victim and firefighter on the disabled watercraft.

By the time the pair had been rescued, night had fallen. The team elected to leave the watercraft where the rescue took place overnight and will pick them up in the morning, Lyon said.

Lyon said that the Yellowstone River is dangerous any time of year and people should exercise caution and take the appropriate safety measures if they are going to be on the river. Lyon said this rescue marks the third or fourth that Billings Firefighters have had to make this year.

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Bugs swarm the bright lights of a Billings fire truck parked near the Yellowstone River Saturday.