Approximately 200 people were rescued from a large sheet of ice that broke free from the shoreline Monday morning on Upper Red Lake.
The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office said it received a 911 call around 11:30 a.m. and dispatched officers to the southeast corner of the lake.
They arrived to discover a detached sheet of ice surrounded by up to 30 yards of open water. On it were hundreds of people enjoying a day of ice fishing, some of whom were likely “unaware of the separation.” Upper Red Lake and Lower Red Lake combine to form the largest freshwater lake in Minnesota.
Police used a drone to scope out the smallest point of separation and set up a bridge to help the anglers across. They also sent out an emergency alert with the coordinates of the evacuation site.
In total, about 200 people were evacuated from the ice by 2:40 p.m., police said.
“The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office reminds those who are thinking of heading on the ice that early season ice is very unpredictable. Extreme caution should be used when heading on the ice and to check the thickness frequently to ensure an adequate amount of ice,” said Chief Deputy Jarrett Walton.