For the second time in five days, emergency crews scrambled Tuesday to Upper Red Lake on a report of ice fishermen in distress.
A call from Roger's Campground, 49690 Rogers Road NE near Kelliher, Minn., at 1:02 p.m. reported ice fishermen stranded on Upper Red Lake's southeast shore with about 100 feet of water between the men and land.
Emergency crews were unable to contact the men, who were not carrying cell-phones, but the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office said a person on land gave details of the situation as it unfolded until first responders arrived.
The men gathered their gear, including an all-terrain vehicle and trailer, and drove northeast, looking for solid ice in an effort to reach land.
As emergency personnel prepared to unload rescue equipment off Kansas City Road Northeast, south of the Waskish Airport, the fishermen reportedly found their own way off the ice about 2 p.m.
"Responders gathered at several locations along the east shore with emergency lights on to provide direction to the fishermen," a Sheriff's Office news release said.
Two Kelliher firefighters walked onto the ice, assisting the fishermen with their equipment across a crack in the ice.
Jeffrey Theisen, 45, of Sauk Rapids, Minn., Wayne Secord, 46, of St. Cloud, Minn., and Donald Bollig, 60, of St. Joseph, Minn., returned to their vehicles, about three miles from where the incident started.
Blackduck Ambulance, Kelliher First Responders, Bemidji, Minn. Fire Department and staff from West Wind Resort and Roger's Campground joined the Sheriff's Office and Kelliher firefighters in the response.
It marked the second time emergency crews from the region responded to a possible ice rescue on the lake.
Last Friday, two men were on Upper Red Lake when the ice they were on, about 100 yards from shore, broke away and began drifting northwest of Shotley.
After parking a hovercraft on the ice, firefighters determined the ice, about 6 to 9 inches thick, was safe to walk on, and they escorted the ice fishermen to the boat and then shore.
An ATV, left on the lake at the time of the rescue, was retrieved from the ice Saturday.
While Red Lake is one of the first lakes to freeze, breakaway ice blocks can occur when strong winds cause wave action under the ice, forcing it to break.
The Sheriff's Office said strong south winds caused ice to shift Tuesday, stranding the fishermen.
Strong winds "can cause a dangerous situation with ice in a matter of minutes," the Sheriff's Office said. "Do not venture onto the ice unless you check with the local resort owners and others who live in the area. They have the best up-to-date information on the current safe status of the lake."
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