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Officials caution people to check ice conditions before venturing on frozen lakes

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- Officials are urging anglers to check ice conditions before setting foot or tire on frozen lakes, after nearly 50 people were rescued Monday from floating ice sheets on Upper Red Lake. The anglers stranded had believed Upper Red...

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Rescuers and fishermen walk off Upper Red Lake on Monday near the south side of the lake after nearly 50 people were stranded after several sheets of ice broke up on the lake stranding them with their ice houses. (Jillian Gandsey | Forum News Service)

 

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- Officials are urging  anglers to check ice conditions before setting foot or tire on frozen lakes, after nearly 50 people were rescued Monday from floating ice sheets on Upper Red Lake.

The anglers stranded had believed Upper Red Lake was safe, with several inches of ice along the lake's southern shore near Rogers' Resort and Campground. Chris Freudenberg, Rogers' co-owner, had told people the ice appeared stable according to satellite images he studied that day, until a changing south wind reopened week-old cracks in the ice.

"The Beltrami County Sheriff's Office advises at this time no one should be on (Upper Red Lake) due to dangerous winds and fissures throughout the area," a release said. "The next several days will continue to be a dangerous combination for those wanting to fish."

Anglers should ask bait shops or lakeside resorts about conditions before heading out.

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources offers guidelines for ice safety:

  •  2 inches or fewer, ice shouldn't be walked upon
  •  4 inches, ice can support fishing and other activities on foot
  •  5 inches, ice can support snowmobiles and ATVs
  •  8-12 inches, ice can support cars and small trucks
  •  12-15 inches, ice can support mid-sized trucks

The figures should be doubled when evaluating older ice that looks more white than clear.
Witnesses at the resort said the emergency was caused by changing winds and warm weather, both of which make ice more dangerous. Snowfall also puts ice under more stress.

Monday's anglers had brought fishing shacks and ATVs, hauled to shore by rescuers after everyone was safe. They said something was clearly wrong when they noticed their lines moving around in the water, noting the lake doesn't have a current.

By the time Travis Mauer and his two friends knew what was happening, the crack separating them from shore was too wide to cross. They said they had never been stranded like that.

"We caught three fish," Mauer said. "It was definitely different."

They'll try again, they said, in two weeks.

Related Topics: FISHING
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