Crystal Beach ‘ice caves’ off limits

Feb 19, 2014

Amazing ice formations along a section of Lake Erie at Crystal Beach could collapse at any point. Public access to those ice caves has been closed due to safety concerns.

Crystal Beach ice cave.

Tens of thousands of citizens from both sides of the border have been flocking to see the winter treasure in Crystal Beach, Ontario.  But with warming temperatures, cracks have formed and the caves are shifting.  

Fort Erie fire chief Larry Coplen tells WBFO News crews put up crime tape to keep the public out and ending public access at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

"The caves sitting on top of the ice have started to shift. Some small cracks developed late Monday afternoon. Some of the cracks are a foot to two feet wide. Parts of it are going to collapse anytime now," said Coplen.

Some 50,000 visitors showed up at Crystal Beach over the holiday weekend to get a glimpse.  An estimated 30,000 on Monday during the U.S. President's Day holiday.

"We are putting together a plan to actually knock down the areas that are very unsafe so they don't come falling down on someone," said Coplen.

Coplen is also concerned about the safety of his firefighters.

"We don't have to have to put firefighters in jeopardy to do a rescue or recovery," stated Coplen.

Coplen noted this season's conditions created the winter phenomenon.

Many citizens have posted videos and photos of the Crystal Beach ice caves on YouTube.

"It is a very neat thing to see. It's not something you see every year or every decade. And you just wonder how much power mother nature has," said Coplen. 

The lake waters turned into ice caves and other unique ice formations.