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Updated: Gordon dog rescue attempt unsuccessful

Volunteer firefighters in the town of Gordon were called to Sims Lake on Thursday morning after a dog fell through the ice near the boat landing. One ended up needing to be rescued himself.

The firefighters were not able to reach the dog before it tired and sank, according to a report by Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Cynde Hunter.

Fire Chief Mike Chmielecki said one firefighter, whose parents owned the dog, tried to reach the animal in a canoe. The canoe got stuck in the ice and tipped over.

A nearby homeowner and his niece rescued the firefighter after he spent about 11 minutes in the water. According to the homeowner's wife, they used dock pieces to spread their weight evenly on the ice and a rope to pull the firefighter out.

"That's pretty amazing," Chmielecki said. "To have someone show up next door to come and help."

He stressed that they did a good job of aiding the man in the water without putting themselves at risk.

Hunter’s report indicated that two dogs had initially fallen through the ice, but the second was already out when she arrived.

Sims Lake had ice in the center and on the shoreline at the time of the incident, with an open stretch of water in between.

Chmielecki said there have been numerous reports of people and animals falling through ice this spring, both in Douglas County and the surrounding area.

The Wisconsin DNR’s Thursday report indicated that ice is quickly thinning on northern lakes that still have ice, with dangerous conditions on most lakes.

While some lakes that still have ice on them, Chmielecki said, they aren’t safe.

Technically, the ice on the east shore of Sims Lake is about eight inches thick, but looks are deceiving. The decaying ice is honeycombed and breaks up like shards of glass, a condition known as candle ice. To anyone thinking of trekking on lake ice, Chmielecki had a word of advice: "Don’t do it."

He encouraged dog owners to keep an eye on their pets close to ice.

"If there is an incident, call 911," Chmielecki said. "Don’t take care of it on your own."

Editor's note: The article originally made no mention of the firefighter being rescued, based on earlier information.