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A bridge over the Green River becomes trouble

Two recent high-angle rescues have underscored the dangers of the the state Route 169 bridge over the Green River near Enumclaw. (Air 4 photo)

ENUMCLAW, Wash -- Two high-angle rescues in one week have prompted the state Department of Transportation to take action to make the steep banks of the Green River safer.

"No trespassing" signs will likely go up where the rescues have taken place. The location is where the state Route 169 bridge goes high over the river. There is a trailhead that's turned into trouble.

From Air 4 you can get a good sense of just how steep the terrain is at this portion of the Green River north of Enumclaw. For some people it's an enticing entry point. But the fun stops when the people drop.

Thursday a woman fell 60 feet down a slope and had to be rescued by a special team assembled from all over the region. "It's quite a significant challenge," said incident commander Capt. John Bloomer of the Enumclaw Fire Department.

He said the woman appeared to be only slightly injured in the fall, but she had no way of getting back up. A system of rescue lines was set up, and the team members carefully brought her back up the top.

This is the second time in a week they've had to go over the steep embankment to rescue people. Tuesday two adults and two children had to be rescued at the same spot. "Having two calls right here back-to-back is pretty unique for us," Bloomer said. "It's been a while since we've had one here."

Capt. Kyle Ohashi, Puget Sound Fire Authority, added "It is troubling because people are obviously putting themselves at risk going to areas that are not very accessible."

If it's so dangerous why isn't something done about it?

"That is not our responsibility," Ohashi said. "We don't have the authority to do something like that. I think most people would agree that if you put a fence up that those who want to get in are still going to get in."

The state DOT operates the bridge and owns this property. A spokesperson agrees a fence might not work, but they are going to be putting in 'no trespassing' signs so at least people are warned that they shouldn't be trying to reach the Green River this way.

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