Crews rescue 35 anglers from Duluth harbor ice floe

Emergency crews rescued nearly three dozen anglers from the Duluth harbor on Saturday morning after strong winds pushed an ice floe away from shore.

Mark Herman, acting assistant chief with the Duluth Fire Department, said strong northeast winds opened up a gap in the ice along more than a mile of the Park Point shore, stranding the anglers.

"It created a crack that at one point was 50 feet (wide)... closer to the (Sky Harbor) airport it was less than that. And they were unable to get off the ice," Herman told MPR News.

Crews from the Duluth Fire Department, U.S. Coast Guard, St. Louis County Rescue Squad, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Gold Cross Ambulance set up four places to evacuate the anglers from the ice.

"We were able to pull the individuals off the ice using a small boat, three rapid deployment crafts and a ladder," Herman said.

Crews safely removed 35 anglers and their fishing gear from the ice. One other angler who was stranded closer to shore went through chest-deep water to reach shore before rescue crews arrived, Herman said. No injuries were reported.

The ice is about a foot thick on the harbor, a few hundred feet from shore.

"Whenever you have wind changes — and a real northeaster that's blowing like today, it's been blowing since early morning — you're going to have shifting ice," Herman said.

Herman said the fire department does ice rescue training with the Coast Guard on a regular basis.

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