MARICOPA — Thunderbird Fire Department rescued a woman and a family of six Wednesday from a flooded wash in two separate incidents.
The first incident occurred at 3:57 p.m. when the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office reported a woman was caught in rushing waters in a wash located between Val Vista and Warren roads during an afternoon monsoon storm.
According to the fire department, the woman reportedly said she was driving along and all of a sudden was “blasted by a bunch of water.”
A volunteer firefighter hooked a winch to the vehicle to stabilize it while a few other volunteer firefighters and a Pinal County Sheriff’s deputy went in to get the woman out safely.
At 7:54 p.m., the fire department was dispatched to the wash again after receiving a call from PSCO about a family of six caught in the flooding. According to the department, the family thought they could drive through the wash in their Ford Excursion. However, as they drove through it, the water began to push and turn their vehicle.
Given the strength of the water’s current, the driver and the passengers made the decision to exist the vehicle and sit on the roof. The youngest child in the vehicle was around 11 months old and the eldest was about 6 years.
Because the current was too strong to send any volunteer members of the department into the water, an Arizona Department of Public Safety Ranger helicopter crew was brought in to assist. They first got the four children to safety, then went back and rescued the parents.
The Ak-Chin Fire Department sent out an engine and a rescue helicopter to check on the family. No injuries were reported in either incident, though both vehicles were towed.
PSCO received notifications about the wash flooding and notified both North Hidden Valley Fire Department and Thunderbird. However, no one anticipated it would lead to back-to-back rescues.
“We all forget how little water it takes to actually move a vehicle,” Thunderbird Fire Department Chief Allen Allcott said. “They (drivers) look at it and say, ‘Oh, I’ve got this big vehicle, it’s tall, it’s heavy,’ but I mean if you have a foot of water, you can move a vehicle quite a bit.”
He said he appreciated DPS showing up and being “extremely good at their job.” He was also grateful for the volunteer firefighters who came out and “put their lives on the line” to help those stranded get back to safety.