Fire and Ice Keep Stillwater’s First Responders Busy

Fire and ice have kept local first responders busy this week.

Stillwater firefighters have been called to two wildfires and two ice rescues this week, Stillwater Fire Chief Stu Glaser said.

Stillwater firefighters responded to two calls for ice rescues on Tuesday.

The first call came in at about 2 p.m. after a St. Croix Beach man was climbing on the ice near downtown Hudson when a chunk broke loose.

He floated down the river for nearly a mile before firefighters caught up to him with an ice boat, Glaser said. When Stillwater firefighters arrived, the man was south of the 94 bridge. The water temperature was 33 degrees.

“He was definitely in danger, no doubt about it,” Washington County Sgt. Tim Harris told the Star Tribune. “Especially with the water temperature like that you don’t last too long because your muscles cramp up. We’re definitely very thankful that he’s safe.”

On Tuesday evening, Stillwater firefighters were called to an ice rescue on Long Lake.

Three juveniles were walking on the ice on Long Lake while pulling a small boat, Glaser said. All three of them fell through the ice and two of them were able to get into the boat.

“The third person began running across the ice and kept breaking through but was able to make to shore, get home and call 911 for help,” Glaser said.

Stillwater firefighters responded with the airboat.

“Firefighters donned ice rescue suites and made their way to the boat with the two individuals in it and were able to tow them to shore,” Glaser said.

No serious injuries were reported, Glaser said, but they were cold and wet.

“I know this sounds counterintuitive, but we’ve responded to two ice rescue calls today,” Glaser said. “I urge people to stay off the ice, it’s not safe. I never condone going out on the ice, but if it happens we’ll do our best to come out and get you.”

As for the fire…

With a lack of snow and rapid heat increase there is a higher risk of wildfires, Glaser said.

On Saturday firefighters responded to a 14.5 acre fire north of town at 120th Street and Otchipwe Avenue in Stillwater Township.

“The fire damaged a neighboring garage and threatened several homes,” Glaser said. “It was a precarious situation out there.”

On Sunday, firefighters were called to a fire in the ravine off of the 900 block of Otchipwe Avenue in Stillwater Township.

The DNR has not officially put restrictions out yet, but they are planning to put restrictions in place on Wednesday, March 25, Glaser said. The burning restrictions change daily, so check the DNR’s  website for the most recent burning restriction information.

“It’s important to understand that even if you have a permit from the DNR, and the fire gets away from you, you are responsible,” Glaser said. “You can be billed for the response and held accountable for that fire even if you have permission.”

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