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Heavy rain prompts closure of Blue Marsh Lake's day use area, boat launches

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Jul 23 2013 09:58:31 AM CDT
Updated On: Jul 23 2013 05:49:58 PM CDT

Parts of Blue Marsh Lake in Berks County are off limits, thanks to the heavy rain that fell overnight.

BERN TWP., Pa. -

Mother nature wreaked havoc on parts of Berks County overnight Monday into Tuesday.

Flooding from relentless rain shut down popular lakes and trails, and all eyes were on the forecast, hoping no more rain is in sight.

Blue Marsh Lake shut down Tuesday as 2,000 cubic feet of water per second was released from the lake, which had risen three feet. Officials said they expected it to go even higher.

"The picnic area over at the beach area is under water, and the swim beach itself is totally submerged at this time," said John Cave, park manager at Blue Marsh.

Part of the boat docks were also submerged. The heavy rain caused erosion and forced officials to close the lake Tuesday due to unsafe conditions.

That changed plans for part of Gary Wideman's bachelor party and his fun-filled day on the water.

"It kind of ruins our plans, but it's still a sunny day, right? And we can find something exciting to do," said Wideman, who is from Canada.

The Tulpehocken Creek's current was swift Tuesday, and water spilled over its banks at Gring's Mill in Spring Township. Water that rushed in from Blue Marsh forced the closure of the Union Canal trails, and joggers and walkers were met with closed signs.

"Some of the trails have water on them already, so from the public safety aspect we cannot allow people on the trails at this time until this water goes down," said Chris Stress, director of the Berks County Parks System.

The storms also sparked a 2-alarm fire in Bern Township on Monday night. Lightning lit up the sky and struck a house in the 100 block of Oak Circle. About 50 firefighters were able to control the blaze, but it caused about $10,000 worth of damage, said fire officials.

Park rangers at Blue Marsh hope to reopen the lake by Friday, but they stressed the conditions will still be dangerous. Boaters and swimmers are urged to be extra cautious of debris floating in the water.