As many as 20 anglers were reported stranded Wednesday night on a large floating ice chunk on Mille Lacs Lake with three area fire departments involved in their rescue.
The anglers were reported stranded after 7 p.m. on the north end of the lake by the Red Door Resort. It was unclear how many anglers were stranded because of night visibility restrictions and the size of the ice chunk. The Minnesota State Patrol was believed to be sending a helicopter to determine how many people were trapped on the ice.
“As they take people off, more show up,” said Brainerd Fire Chief Kevin Stunek.
Aitkin County Sheriff Scott Turner said he planned to wait until Thursday morning to issue a statement and that he could not confirm the number of anglers stranded on the ice. Brainerd, Garrison and Aitkin firefighters were at the scene using a Hovercraft and rescue sleds to get the anglers to safety. No one was reported in the water and the people were not in immediate danger, Stunek said.
However, rescuing that many people was expected to be time consuming with one or two of the stranded anglers fitting in the Hovercraft for each trip to shore. “Stay off the ice, that’s just a huge thing,” Stunek said of the message on ice safety. Early cold temperatures this season without snow made for laudable ice on area lakes, but temperatures rose to 50 degrees in Brainerd Sunday and have remained unseasonably mild.
“The ice is not safe,” Stunek said.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.