CHICAGO (CBS) — The weekend death of an ice fisherman in the Chain of Lakes has the Fox Lake Fire Department warning that this winter has just been too warm to make ice thick enough for safety.
Battalion Chief Ed Lescher with the Fox Lake Fire Department says there have been freezes, but then the sun’s been coming out to melt away the top ice layers.
He says this has produced ice of varying thickness — too thin in part to support fishermen or anyone else out on the ice for fun.
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He says at any given moment, despite the danger, there are a couple of dozen people fishing on Long Lake, and many more on larger lakes like Pistakee, Dunn’s and Fox.
“They think they know better,” he said. “They have their ice augers and they go out there and they test little holes here and there to test the thickness of the ice. With this wintertime, you’ll have spots where it’s an inch thick and couple of feet away it’ll be four inches thick.”
Ice thickness of four to six inches is needed to ensure the safety of the fishermen.
Lescher says it’s frustrating to see fishermen out on ice which he knows is too thin in spots to support them.
Over the weekend, 29-year-old Justin Ribar from Johnsburg fell into Pistakee Lake while ice fishing.
People on shore heard his cries for help, spotted his ice fishing gear, but he was trapped underneath the ice. His body wasn’t recovered until the following morning.