Over 100 people were rescued from Upper Red Lake in Minnesota after an enormous chunk of ice broke off from the shore.

The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office said a large group of anglers became stranded after the ice detached from the main shoreline.

According to reports, there was roughly 30 feet of water between the detached ice and the shore.

CBS News reports:

Before the sheriff’s office could get to the scene, bystanders tried to rescue some people using a canoe. However, four people fell into the water during this time. They were pulled back onto the ice floe and went into a fishing shelter to warm up, according to the sheriff.

Crews rescued those four fishermen around 6:40 p.m. Roughly an hour later, crews determined that the rest of the fishermen would need to be evacuated and brought on shore.

In all, the sheriff’s office said 122 people were evacuated from the ice floe. No one was injured.

A total of 122 people have been evacuated after being stranded on an ice floe on Upper Red Lake this afternoon. No injuries were reported.

MEDIA RELEASE: “Upper Red Lake, Beltrami County, MN – Over 100 fishermen were stranded and needed to be evacuated from an ice floe on the southeastern area of Upper Red Lake Friday evening that detached from the main shoreline. At 4:57pm on December 29, 2023 the Beltrami County Emergency Communications Center received a call that around 100 people were stranded on an ice chunk with over 30 feet of open water separating them from shore. Initial reports indicated that no one had fallen through the ice. Emergency responders were dispatched for an ice rescue.

When first responders arrived on scene they immediately began identifying a location that would be best suited to safely evacuate those stranded on the ice. Emergency responders staged at a resort on the southeastern shore of Upper Red Lake. Due to the fact that some anglers may not have been aware they were on the ice floe, Beltrami County Emergency Management sent out an Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Wireless Emergency Alert with instructions on where to evacuate.

Before emergency responders arrived on scene, bystander attempts via a canoe to evacuate were attempted. Four individuals fell into the open water during this attempt. They were brought back to the ice floe to warm in a fishing shelter. Emergency responders were able to evacuate the first four fishermen from the ice floe at 6:40pm. At 7:37pm it was determined that all stranded fishermen needing to be evacuated had been brought to the main shoreline.

A total of 122 individuals were evacuated from the ice floe. No injuries were reported and only the four that fell from the canoe ended up in the water.

The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by Kelliher Fire and Rescue, Kelliher First Responders, Blackduck Ambulance, Bemidji Fire Department, the Becker County Sheriff’s Office, Beltrami County Emergency Management, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officers and area resorts. Additional state resources were requested but cancelled because of the efficiency and speed of local emergency responders.”


KARE 11 added:

Upper Red Lake has been the location for several ice rescues this winter, including a mass rescue of 35 anglers on Dec. 17, a near-catastrophic plane landing on Dec. 19 and a rescue of three men on Dec. 21 after their ATV and trailer broke through the ice. On Thursday morning, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office received another report from Upper Red Lake of a father and son falling through the ice on an ATV.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has issued multiple warnings about poor ice conditions statewide, telling the public that the recent combination of wind, rain and warm weather means “few, if any, areas of the state have the ice thickness necessary” for ice fishing.


“Use extreme caution if you venture on area lakes and check the ice thickness frequently,” Beltrami County Sheriff Jason Riggs warned in a news release last week.

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