05/11/2013 12:07 EDT | Updated 07/11/2013 05:12 EDT

Yellowknife dogsledder falls through ice on bay

Bystanders and the Yellowknife fire department saved a man and his dogs who broke through thin ice on Yellowknife Bay Friday.

The man was dogsledding on the bay when he broke through the ice into the water. A passerby pulled him out and a fire department ice rescue crew saved five of the seven dogs.

“Our main concern was for the patient,” said Craig MacLean, the fire department's deputy chief of operations. “We extricated him from the ice surface, transported to hospital. He did walk off the ice under his own power."

According to a news release, the fire department got a call at about 5 p.m. about a person falling through the ice. Crews went to the access point for the closed Dettah ice road off School Draw Avenue, where a bystander pointed them towards people on the ice who were shouting and waving.

The four-person rescue group put on their ice rescue gear and went out on the ice. When they were within communication distance, they found the people waving on the ice were not in distress but were trying to tell them where the man had actually gone through the ice. It was about a kilometre further down the bay.

The rescue crew called for more fire department personnel, including off-duty and paid-on-call firefighters, to be dispatched to the foot of 48th Street.

When the ice rescue crew arrived at the site, a passerby had helped the man out of the water. The passerby transported the man by snowmobile to shore to meet the additional fire crews. They transported the man to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The ice rescue group then attempted to save the dogs, rescuing five. Bystanders helped transport the surviving dogs to shore, while the two that died were taken to shore by ATV by another bystander.

The dogs were released to the care of a friend of the patient.