More than 120 fishermen were rescued after they became stranded on an ice floe that broke loose from a Minnesota lake on Friday evening, officials said.
The anglers became stuck shortly before 5 p.m. after the large chunk detached from the main ice on Upper Red Lake — a popular ice fishing destination about 60 miles south of the Canadian border, The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office said.
About 30 feet separated the ice floe from land. No injuries were reported, but four people fell into the frigid waters during rescue attempts.
“Before emergency responders arrived on scene, bystander attempts via a canoe to evacuate were attempted,” Sheriff Jason Riggs said in a statement. “Four individuals fell into the open water during this attempt. They were brought back to the ice floe to warm in a fishing shelter.”
The four fishermen who fell in were taken off the ice floe around 7: 40 p.m. About an hour later, officials determined all those still on the ice would have to be evacuated.
In total, 122 people were brought to shore, officials said.
Just a day earlier, the Minnesota Department of National Resources warned the public that “ice conditions across the state have changed markedly in recent days,” as a result of the unseasonably warm winter and rainy conditions.
Several fish houses and recreational vehicles have fallen through the ice in recent days, officials said.
“Most years, the ice would be thick enough by now for vehicles and wheelhouses, and we’d be seeing a steady procession of them heading north,” Riggs said in a public notice about the ice conditions on Thursday.
“But this year isn’t ‘most years,’ and the ice is changing constantly,” he added. “It’s absolutely vital that anyone who heads out checks the thickness frequently, pays close attention to the weather, and has a plan in case the worst happens and they wind up in the water.”
Red Lake had already seen several ice rescues this winter, KARE reported.
On Dec. 17, 35 anglers were rescued after they became stranded on an ice floe.
Two days later, a plane crashed through the ice when it landed on the lake. The two occupants, who had planned on fishing that day, were safely brought to shore.
Then on Dec. 21, a father and son fell through the ice while riding an ATV, according to KARE.
Nearly 200 fishermen got stuck on an iceberg on Upper Red Lake last year. All were safely removed.