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Fish house submerged in lake as thin ice conditions persist in Minnesota

It happened near Collegeville at the weekend.

Thin ice conditions continue to cause problems across the southern half of Minnesota, with a fish house through the ice the latest incident on the state's lakes this winter.

The Stearns County Sheriff's Office reports it was called to Big Watab Lake in Collegeville Township just after noon Sunday on a report that the fish house had gone through the ice.

When they arrived, they found it was being removed from the water having gone through the ice about 30-40 yards from the shore, near 30095 Lilac Road.

The incident that caused it to enter the water actually happened a day earlier, when a 69-year-old man from St. Joseph was pulling his 16-foot fish house using an Arctic Cat UTV when he felt the fish house fall into the water behind him.

The ice was about 4-6 inches thick where it broke through. Four inches is the minimum thickness recommended to walk on ice, but the DNR says it should be 5-7 inches thick for a snowmobile, 8-12 for a regular sized car, and 12-15 inches for a pickup.

Prior to the fish house sinking, the owner was able to disconnect his UTV from the house. It then sank about three-quarters of the way into the water, requiring it to be towed out.

It's the latest in a long line of incidents involving people or vehicles going through lake ice.

While temperatures dipped towards the end of December, this has still been an unusually mild winter. Last week in the Twin Cities, it prompted Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson to issue a warning due to the "extremely unpredictable and highly unsafe" ice conditions.

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