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Tucson firefighter, woman briefly swept away in rushing Tucson wash
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Tucson firefighter, woman briefly swept away in rushing Tucson wash

A vehicle that was washed downstream in Alamo Wash sits just south of the bridge at Fort Lowell Road after a powerful storm hit the Tucson area early Friday. Tucson firefighters rescued the woman from the water after the rushing water carried her car toward the Rillito River, starting at Sahuara Avenue and Waverly Street.

A Tucson firefighter was briefly swept away in a rushing wash early Friday morning along with the woman he was trying to rescue, officials say.

Both the firefighter and the woman are OK.

The incident started shortly after 1 a.m. when crews were called to the Alamo Wash near East Waverly Street and North Sahuara Avenue, south of East Grant Road, to help a motorist caught in the rushing water, said Battalion Chief Barrett Baker.

Firefighters, including Baker, followed the woman as her vehicle was swept down the wash. She eventually had to get out as the white Chevy sedan filled with water.

Rescuers caught up to her near the bridge at East Fort Lowell Road, where the woman was “holding on to a tree for dear life,” Baker said.

The strength of the water pulled in a firefighter struggling to reach the woman.

“We had taglines on them, which is basically a rope that they’re connected to, but that force of the water is pushing them so far and so fast down the stream,” Baker said. “It’s like a tug of war that you’re losing.”

Firefighters further downstream who were able to capture the pair before they broke away.

Both the firefighter and the woman got out of the running wash and up to the wash banks to safety.

“It’s another reminder for people that these floodwaters are so dangerous, not just for the public, but for first responders as well,” said Michael Colaianni, a Fire Department spokesman.

It’s risky to underestimate the strength of monsoon storms here and the flooding that often follows, Colaianni said.

Washes and rivers were flowing steadily Friday morning after a monsoon storm swept through Tucson the night before. More than two inches of rain were reported in some parts of Tucson.

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