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Mitchell’s ‘mini Old Faithful’ cause of scare near Lake Mitchell

Members of the Mitchell Fire Department, Police Division and the Davison County Office of Emergency Management investigate a report of a snowmobile that fell through the ice in Firesteel Creek Wednesday afternoon. (Matt Gade / Republic)

A pipe system on Lake Mitchell is to blame for a 911 call Wednesday claiming a person fell through the ice.

According to Mitchell Assistant Fire Chief Paul Morris, dispatch received a 911 call at 2:33 p.m. that a person driving a snowmobile or ATV had gone through the ice on the west end of Lake Mitchell.

The reporting party was a man who was ice fishing on the lake and, while driving his own recreational vehicle on the ice, heard a “huge splash” behind him. When he turned to look, he saw water flying in the air and a “giant hole” in the ice, Morris said.

Authorities arrived on scene and investigated the area near the approximately 12-foot hole. They observed tracks to other vehicles around the area that appeared to be older, Morris said, and authorities soon discovered a pipe, and not an actual person, was the culprit.

Morris said Poet Biorefining has a pipe system in the area that draws water from the lake. Periodically, the 12-inch pipe pushes water back into the lake to clear the pipes out from sediment.

“It’s like a mini Old Faithful,” Morris said with a laugh. “It blows a bunch of water around and makes a lot of noise. So what we thought was somebody on a recreational vehicle going through the ice actually is just normal, everyday operations out there with that pipe system.”

The system was confirmed by an official with Poet, Morris said. The Mitchell Fire Department, Mitchell Police Division, Mitchell Emergency Medical Services and Davison County Search and Rescue responded.

Crews left the scene at 3:25 p.m. and Morris said the reporting party “made the right call” by contacting authorities.

“He did the right thing by calling 911,” Morris said. “I would’ve done the same thing. I would have automatically assumed somebody went into the lake.”