Crews free trailer from rising San Juan River

Steve Garrison
A winch truck pulls a water-logged mobile home from the San Juan River off County Road 5008 Wednesday.

BLOOMFIELD — Crews this afternoon rescued a trailer near Bloomfield that slid into the San Juan River.

Dispatchers received a report at 10:32 a.m. today that a trailer at No. 48 County Road 5008 had slid into the river, which was experiencing increased water flow due to a release from Navajo Lake by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Swift water rescue crews from the San Juan County and Bloomfield fire departments worked for several hours to secure the trailer and prevent it from floating downstream and potentially damaging property, including a bridge at County Road 5500.

A pile of debris in the river caused the embankment to crumble, pulling in the trailer and causing it to settle on the muddy river bottom, said Michele Truby-Tillen, spokeswoman for the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management.

Truby-Tillen said the trailer was uninhabited and disconnected from utilities when it slid into the river.

San Juan County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter said crews managed to pull the water-logged trailer from the river using a winch truck at about 2:30 p.m.

Workers free a trailer that threatened to be washed into the San Juan River off County Road 5008 after water from Navajo Lake was released into the river on Wednesday.

Last week, crews with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation started to gradually increase the amount of water flowing into the San Juan River from Navajo Lake.

The increased water flow is scheduled to continue until June 23, according to a press release from the bureau. Water flow is expected to return to normal on July 4, the release states.

Water flow in the San Juan River between Navajo Dam and the river’s confluence with the Animas River was at about 5,000 cubic-feet-per-second this morning, said Susan Behery, a spokeswoman for the agency.

She said that is an average rate for a peak spring release from the dam. However, the bureau hasn’t conducted such a release since 2012 due to a multi-year drought, so the high river flow has caught many off-guard, Behery said.

This uninhabited mobile home was pulled from the San Juan River off County Road 5008 Wednesday after the river embankment gave way.

Carpenter said this afternoon that the bureau agreed to reduce the water flow Thursday to 2,000 cubic-feet-per-second so crews could attempt to remove debris from the river near the trailer.

Reporter Brett Berntsen contributed to this story.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644.