Hundreds Rescued After Large Ice Floe Breaks Free In Minnesota

An estimated 200 people were stranded on the ice chunk in Upper Red Lake.

First responders in northern Minnesota rescued an estimated 200 ice fishers from a large ice chunk that broke free on Upper Red Lake, leaving them stranded on the frozen mass.

Several hundred anglers were fishing the popular spot late Monday morning when the floe broke loose, stranding them on a large portion of drifting ice, according to the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities deployed airboats, water rescue boats, all-terrain vehicles, drones and a temporary bridge to track down fishers who were stranded on the ice and extract them to shore.

Shane Youngbauer, who runs the fishing outfitter Northwoods Fish Houses, warned anglers on social media of the massive crack and informed them of the ongoing rescue efforts.

“There she is, ladies and gentlemen,” he said in a livestreamed video, showing viewers the widening gap of open water. “She’s not good, guys!”

Youngbauer estimated the gap at 60 feet and growing.

Stranded anglers on a piece of ice make their way to rescuers on Upper Red Lake in Minnesota on Monday, Nov. 28.
Stranded anglers on a piece of ice make their way to rescuers on Upper Red Lake in Minnesota on Monday, Nov. 28.
Beltrami County Sheriff's Office

“It’s supposed to snow here, so just keep your eyes open,” Youngbauer told the stranded fishers. “Keep watching. When we come get you, make sure you’re ready to go, because we’re not waiting. Your gear might have to wait on the other side. It sucks. But that’s just the way it is.”

A multi-hour effort concluded shortly after 2:30 p.m., with all of the people successfully rescued.

“The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office reminds those who are thinking of heading on the ice that early season ice is very unpredictable,” the office said in a release. “Extreme caution should be used when heading on the ice and to check the thickness frequently to ensure an adequate amount of ice.”

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