Division Chief Steve Simpson of the Chico Fire Department thinks children might have been playing in the raft Sunday, got snagged and left the creek safely, he said.
"Because of the winter weather, the creeks and the river are up," Simpson said. "People need to use caution when being around them and in them."
Chico fire checked with Chico police, who reported no missing people, Simpson said.
About 7:50 a.m. Monday, Bidwell Park rangers found the rubberized raft with one oar in the creek east of Highway 99, Simpson said. Chico fire sent out a rescue team. The about eight-foot raft was not overturned. Crews walked about a mile up the stream from One-Mile Recreation Area, checking the water, snags and the creek bank.
"We searched the area the best we could," Simpson said.
The water was about three or four feet deep on average with deeper pools, Simpson said.
Simpson recommends people wear life jackets and helmets and have the proper training before venturing to the creeks and rivers, he said.
The danger was pointed out over the weekend when two teenagers apparently drowned Saturday near Walnut Creek, after launching a similar raft into a storm-swollen stream.