SOUTH EL MONTE, Calif. (KABC) -- Los Angeles firefighters rescued two women, four dogs and a litter of puppies who were all stranded on a small patch of dirt in the middle of the San Gabriel River in South El Monte early Friday morning.
Around 5:40 a.m., fire crews headed out to the river near the 60 Freeway on reports of people stranded. It was unclear how the women and animals got on the island.
The water was about 10 feet high and flowing quickly after a storm swept through the Southland, bringing heavy rain. Crews saw the women clinging to debris in the river.
Ray Ayala said it was scary for him to witness his brothers' girlfriends being rescued from the river. His two siblings and their girlfriends live out in the riverbed. He said the group got separated and his brother called 911 around 4 a.m.
The strong waters and currents kept swift water rescues out of the water, and they had to wait until a helicopter arrived.
Around 8:30 a.m., a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department helicopter hoisted up the two women, and that's when firefighters noticed they also had puppies.
The crews went back into the riverbed and rescued six puppies and four adult dogs. The women and animals were all assessed for injuries. They all appeared to be shaken, but unharmed.
Authorities said anyone who knows of a homeless encampment in the area should notify them so they can clear the areas and keep people safe.
Anyone with more information on the incident is urged to call the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-550. Those wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.