DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — Twenty-six people fishing on Lake Superior were rescued when an ice floe broke away from the Minnesota shoreline, stranding them in frigid weather.
The Duluth Fire Department got a call Tuesday morning from a resident who saw ice shanties floating away. Crews brought the anglers to shore a few at a time by boat. No injuries were reported.
The Coast Guard, the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Rescue Squad and the Duluth Police Department assisted. Many anglers didn’t realize the ice had separated from the shore until they heard yells and sirens, the Star Tribune reported.
“A couple people started sprinting toward the shore” before the channel of water widened, said Jack Norquist, 22. “It wasn’t the scariest thing, but it wasn’t fun.”
The rescue was similar to one last week in northeastern Wisconsin, where 66 people were stranded on an ice floe in Lake Michigan.
“The problem with ice fishing anywhere is it’s only as safe as it is at a given moment in time,” said Duluth Fire Chief Shawn Krizaj.
Lake Superior as a whole is just 10% covered with ice, well below average for this time of year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That allows ice along the shore to suddenly drift toward open water depending on weather and water conditions.
The anglers waited for news of their ice fishing gear, which was floating up the North Shore. A fire official took down anglers’ contact information and said they would try to recover the equipment.
“There’s thousands of dollars of worth of stuff out there altogether,” fisherman Porter Smith said.