On Sunday, July 18 at approximately 1731 hours, the Essex Junction Fire Department was dispatched along with Essex Rescue to respond to the Winooski River in the area of the power dam for a reportedly overturned vessel with a life vest floating in the water nearby.
En route, mutual aid was immediately requested from the Williston Fire Department, Colchester Technical Rescue and the Burlington Fire Department for water rescue personnel.
Engine 5 and Car 9 responded, arriving to establish a command post on the Route 2A bridge. The items in the water were to the west of the bridge, just below the white water area of the river. Command utilized binoculars to look at the items which did appear to resemble the hull of a partially overturned vessel and a life ring tethered to it. Personnel from Engine 5 proceeded to the river bank in the area of the Green Mountain Power building to obtain a better vantage point. From their location these personnel were able to see that the "vessel" appeared to be some type of large platform which was hung up on the rocks. A GMP employee was on site and advised that they were fairly confident the items in the water were actually construction scaffolding which had been torn from the dam by the force of the water.
Williston Fire Department arrived on the scene and assisted by providing personnel and assessing the situation. Burlington Fire was cancelled en route, given the information from the GMP representative. Colchester Technical Rescue responded and arrived on the scene also assessing the situation. CTR apparatus proceeded down an access road beside the GMP building which leads to a small launch site on the river. CTR was able to deploy a Zodiac and proceed to the location of the platform to verify it was indeed a platform. The crew on the Zodiac was also able to determine there was no one attached to the life ring and cut the ring, removing it from the river to prevent further 911 calls.
Once the ring was removed, the CTR Zodiac proceeded to the shoreline and exited the river. All operations were terminated at approximately 1900 hours with all apparatus and agencies departing the scene.
We want to thank Essex Rescue, Williston Fire Department, Burlington Fire Department, Essex Police Department and Colchester Technical Rescue for their assistance with this incident which thankfully turned out to be a non life threatening event.