The ice at Swan Lake is 6 inches thick, but the Sitka Fire Department still isn’t saying whether or not it’s safe to skate on.

Dave Miller is Sitka’s Fire Chief. He said the Fire Department doesn’t declare the ice safe or unsafe. What the department does do is take daily measurements, especially when the temperature drops like it did this week.

“We measure it, tell people how thick it is, what it’s like and we leave it at that,” explained Miller. “I can’t say whether the ice is safe or not safe. That’s up to each individual person.”

Miller went out on the ice Tuesday morning. He said he measured from four different areas around Swan Lake.

“I take an axe out there with me that has a point on one end and I just chop a small hole, maybe the size of a silver dollar, through the ice and then we have a little thing that we stick in there and measure it,” Miller said.

That’s how he got the six-inch measurement. That may sound like strong ice, but Miller said that’s not the sense he got when he was out measuring.

“The ice is very brittle and I haven’t ever seen it like that,” Miller said. “When I took a chop, it flaked off and it then cracked. Every time I chopped I got a huge crack of ice.” 

Miller said he’ll try and take measurements each day.

While the Sitka Fire Department can’t rule on whether the ice on Swan Lake is safe or not, Miller advised people to avoid the outlet and inlet of the lake, which he said is where the ice is thinnest.