Fire Department Warns Frozen Lakes and Ponds are not Safe - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Fire Department Warns Frozen Lakes and Ponds are not Safe

YAKIMA, Wa -  This recent cold front has caused many lakes and ponds to freeze over, but the Yakima Fire Department warns that they may not be safe to walk on.

"Well, as you can see, these parts where the ice is raised up, that's heating and cooling," says Ron Melcher, Deputy Fire Marshall of the Yakima Fire Department.

He points to bumps and ridges on Lake Aspen, where ice has been melting and re-freezing.  He says that means it's probably not safe to walk on.

"We're seeing a few more people (out on lakes and ponds), but not too many at one location," says Melcher.

Melcher says generally the ice needs to be at least four inches thick for someone to stand on the ice safely, but there are no guarantees, and no way to tell when the ice starts to thin out.

"You'll never see anyone guarantee safety because the temperatures when they heat and cool or when there's movement in the water, it's not completely frozen," says Melcher.

The ice is covered with snow so it's difficult to see how thick it is and there's no way to tell when it starts to thin out.  Lake Aspen was almost completely frozen over, except for the center where birds were drinking water.

Melcher says the Yakima Fire Department hasn't performed an ice rescue in about two years.  He says that's in part because the last couple winters have been warmer than this winter.