By Laura Haefeli

AUBURN (CBS13) – It was a close call for Cal Fire and their partners in Auburn after a UTV got trapped in a fast-moving creek.

“It’s a really good time to have a healthy respect and maybe even a healthy fear of mother nature.”

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Cal Fire Battalion Chief Matt Wallen says since the pandemic started, they’ve gone from receiving a couple of calls a month to multiple calls a week from people begging for a bailout.

“We call it 911 syndrome. If I screw up and something bad happens there’s always going to be a firefighter, police officer…that’s there to help. Ultimately that does happen but not always to the success that we’d like it to and a lot of time results in many fatalities,” said Wallen.

This past weekend, a UTV got stuck in the deceivingly deep Wolf Creek Waterway in Auburn.

“They got swept downriver and pinned up against rocks,” he said.

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Wallen says the driver was able to get himself out and the passenger was rescued just in time from the sinking off-road vehicle.

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“It could easily flip over and trap whoever’s in the vehicle. If we were standing right here with the rescue team when that happened I can’t even guarantee we’d be able to get them out alive. It happens so quick,” he said.

Wallen says a lack of knowledge and a lot of guts is a bad combination, putting risk-takers and the people who save them in danger.

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“Just watch yourself. California’s an awesome place to get out and enjoy things but know your limitations, know the risk, and just think twice,” said Wallen.