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Hole in ice, footprints prompt fire department to issue warning

Footprints lead up to a frozen-over hole in the ice on Lake Flower. (Provided photo — Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department)

SARANAC LAKE — After finding tracks on Lake Flower leading to what appeared to be a frozen-over hole, the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department is cautioning everyone to be careful on frozen ponds, lakes and rivers.

At 7:16 a.m. Tuesday, the fire department received a report of someone possibly falling through the ice on Lake Flower the night before. Two SLVFD officers certified in surface ice rescue and a Saranac Lake police officer investigated and found footprints in the snow ended at the supposed hole, about 50 to 75 yards from the boat launch. They also found a set of footprints returning from that area to the shore.

The person may have gotten out without assistance or just turned around and gone back without falling in, the fire department said.

“From shore it definitely appeared possible that someone had ventured out onto the ice and fallen through,” SLVFD Chief Brendan Keough wrote in an email. “It also appeared that they may have been able to self-rescue.”

Further investigation with a firefighter’s personal drone led them to believe that the person escaped.

A photo taken by a drone shows footprints leading up to a frozen-over hole in the ice on Lake Flower. (Provided photo — Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department)

“Although it is impossible to say 100% for sure,” Keough wrote, “it appears that the individual’s foot started to break through the ice and the individual wisely decided to return to shore the same path they went out.”

With Winter Carnival coming up, the fire department wants to remind people that just because the Ice Palace is made with ice from Pontiac Bay, that doesn’t mean it’s always safe to walk on Lake Flower. It’s not even a lake. It’s actually a river with a steady flow of water, which creates very poor, unpredictable and dangerous ice conditions.

“Our big message is, be safe on the ice,” Keough said in a phone interview Tuesday. “Whoever walked out there didn’t know or didn’t think about how the ice conditions are notoriously terrible in that area.”

Keough said the fire department is concerned for the future about the Saranac Waterfront Hotel, which is under construction on the shore of Pontiac Bay. He said fire department members should meet with hotel representatives soon, so they know how to properly educate guests on ice dangers.

If you do happen to fall through the ice and self-rescue, the SLVFD suggests you follow up and notify the local fire department of when, where and how you fell through, so they do not risk time, resources and lives investigating non-emergencies.

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