Two people and their pet became stranded on a sand bar in the Santa Ana River bottom following downpours Wednesday that made crossing the channel hazardous, prompting Riverside Fire Department crews to plan a swift water rescue.

The operation was initiated about 10:30 a.m. near the bike trail on the south side of the river, just north of the intersection of Van Buren Boulevard and Jurupa Avenue, according to the fire department.

As of 11:30 a.m., crews were still working to rescue the victims.

Officials said the victims were spotted by people along the trail, who called 911. Firefighters spent more than 20 minutes making their way to the site and found the two parties and their dog on an “island” that formed amid the rushing waters, according to reports from the scene.

There were no reports of injuries.

Firefighters were seeking a sheriff’s or Cal Fire helicopter to assist in the rescue.

It was unclear how the victims ended up in the river bottom, which remains dotted with homeless encampments, despite city prohibitions on habitation and efforts by the Riverside County Flood Control & Water Conservation District to clear the space for a dam project.

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