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Warmer temperatures and shifting ice have Fort Erie, Ont., officials asking the public to stay away from the Crystal Beach ice caves.

The beautiful ice formations on Lake Erie attracted about 25,000 people Monday, said Fort Erie Fire Chief Larry Coplen.

But they may be the last to see the ice up close.

“With the change in weather, the ice has started to shift and become very unstable,” he said. “We are urging people to stay away.”

He said there is water and slush over the ice at the boat launch area near the shore.

Because the caves have become so popular, Fort Erie officials are discussing whether to bring in heavy equipment to knock them down, to deter people from walking out on the ice. At least two people have been injured slipping on the ice.

“With the popularity of it, we’re afraid someone is still going to go out there,” Coplen said.

The ice formations, a few miles straight across Lake Erie from downtown Buffalo, appeared last month, when sustained high winds pushed free-floating pieces of ice onto the shore with great force. When the leading edge of the ice hit the shore, the ice behind it, with nowhere else to go, piled on top, creating weird shapes and configurations, some with openings large enough to crawl or walk through.

email: bobrien@buffnews.com