IRWINDALE – Tempers flared at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area after county officials told park patrons they had to wait in line before using the beach. Officials said more than 3,500 people visited the park Sunday and were upset to find a fence surrounding the 1,500-square-feet beach area dam, preventing them from cooling off from the scorching weather. “Basically we put the fence up as a pilot to see how it would work out in trying to monitor the number of people going onto the beach,” said Margarita Ramos, superintendent of the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area. “But we got rushed. Fences were broken and basically people were trampling the fences to get into the beach.” Ramos said the fence was going to be used as a way to help keep children and adults safe in the water and to allow as many people into the park as possible. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2“The goal of the fence was to be able to keep the front gates of the park open so more people would be able to enjoy the park,” Ramos said. “If we monitor how many people are on the beach and keep it at proper levels, then we don’t have to close the park because of too many people being on the beach.” Although the four lifeguard towers operating on Sunday were able to monitor about 900 people, county officials said many more people wanted to get into the 5-acre lake. “Once we stopped letting people onto the beach it started getting unruly. Some people understood we did it for the safety of their children,” said Sheila Burns, supervisor of the park’s cashiers. “But then they started getting tired and frustrated and all of a sudden 200 people started walking onto the beach. It was scary.” The gates to the park had to be closed at 10:30 a.m., just after the beach area opened because lifeguards felt the water was unmanageable. Ramos said county police were called Sunday to assist in controlling the crowds. No arrests were made. Ramos said because the fence did more harm than good, it was taken down and will not be put back up. “Our patrons feel like they should be able to use the beach at any time and our goal is to keep the park open,” Ramos said. “But safety is really the main priority. So in the future we will monitor … special events and beach patron levels when deciding when to close the gates.” The Santa Fe Dam has had 21 deaths caused by drowning since 1979. The last two occurred since 1997. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2109160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!