Grafton Fire Department aids in the safe recovery of stranded swimmers at Audra State Park


GRAFTON—Members from the Grafton Fire Department made their way to Audra State Park on Friday, to assist in a water rescue.

Four Grafton Fire Department firefighters, armed with Boat 1, responded to the call at Middle Fork River, which came in at approximately 4:00 p.m., on Friday.

According to officials, numerous individuals who had been swimming were reportedly trapped on rocks and some were still in the water, after water levels rapidly rose.

Three separate water rescues were underway by crews from various departments, including Belington, Junior, Nutterfort, Bridgeport, Buckhannon and Elkins, in addition to Grafton Fire Department.

Belington and Barbour County Emergency Medical Services, the Barbour County Sheriff’s Department and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources were also on scene.

“When we arrived on scene, there were 12 people in need of assistance in three separate areas,” said Grafton Fire Department Deputy Chief Ryan Roberts. “Our department was assigned to an area where two individuals were stranded, and we were able to bring them back to safety.”

Through careful work and quick actions, all 12 individuals were safely recovered, according to Roberts. Officials have revealed that only one minor injury was reported as a result of the incident.

It has been reported that heavy rainfalls upstream caused the water to quickly rise with little warning to those enjoying an afternoon at the popular swimming hole.

According to the National Weather Service in Charleston, over three inches of rain poured down early Friday morning, and by late afternoon, the Tygart Valley and Middle Fork Rivers were responding in a brief but sudden rise in water levels of between four and five feet.

“Flood waters are so much more dangerous than most people realize,” voiced Roberts. “Water moves fast, rises even faster and is not very forgiving.”

Grafton Fire Chief Wayne Bell shared that the Grafton Fire Department was happy to assist in the incident and noted that the department is always willing to help those in need in other areas.

“All fire departments work together, no matter where the county lines sit. We know our fellow departments would be here for us in a heartbeat if we needed them, so we make sure to do the same for them,” he expressed. “Luckily, everyone was able to make it home safely on Friday, thanks to the hard work of everyone involved.”

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