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Like many other lakes in the area, the ice on Milton Three Ponds, especially near the shore and along the route of the Salmon Falls River, is disappearing in the warm spring sunshine. (JOHN QUINN/photo)

Officials warn of dangers on the thinning ice

Stay off the ice.

That's the message from firefighters planning to conduct ice rescue training this week.

Rochester Fire Capt. Joe Burns said he hopes the training plunge into the Cocheco River will be the only time firefighters have to don cold water suits this year.

"We don't recommend anyone going out on the ice right now," Burns said.

Milton Fire Chief Nick Marique said parts of Milton Three Ponds are ice-free, especially along the Salmon Falls River.

"It's spring now, so it's not safe," Marique said.

Dover Fire Capt. Paul Haas said ice should be at least four inches thick for people to walk on it safely.

Lee Fire Capt. Scott Newett said firefighters are keeping a close eye on Wheelwright Pond, along Route 152, even though he hasn't seen anyone on the ice in the past week.

In the best of circumstances, Northwood Fire Lt. David Wakeman said it takes about a dozen firefighters to rescue a person who breaks through the ice. People sometimes get into trouble trying to rescue animals, he said.

"We go out for animals more often than people," Wakeman said.

While snowmobilers enjoy traversing Sunrise Lake in Middleton, dark spots are appearing in the ice, especially near the shoreline. John Quinn/Union Leader