A retired Oshawa schoolteacher says he plans to fight a nearly $5,400 bill from the Lake Scugog fire department after he had to be rescued while ice fishing two weeks ago.

Firefighters had to pull Neil Robbescheuten out of the marsh on Jan. 13 after he became disoriented trying to make it back to shore when a dense fog rolled in.

Just over a week later, he received a bill that included $3,750 for fire trucks and $1,650 for manpower.

“It will take me two years to save up $5,000 cash to pay them,” Robbescheuten told CTV Toronto. “They want it in 30 days. I’m not going to run a credit card for that.”

Just two days before he had to be rescued, Kawartha Conservation, which includes the Township of Scugog as one of its “watershed municipalities,” issued a statement warning residents to stay away from “all water bodies” due to mild weather and heavy rainfall in the region.

“While no flooding is anticipated at this time, water accumulation in low-lying areas, road ditches and areas with poor drainage may occur. Ice cover will weaken and may break up as a result of the warmer temperatures and increased flows,” the statement said.

“Under these conditions, all local rivers, streams and lakes should be considered extremely dangerous; riverbanks will be very slippery and unsafe.”

Robbescheuten has been ice fishing on Lake Scugog for 30 years without incident. However, on that day he had only a small light and a lantern to help him make his way off the ice. He had been fishing about 150 metres from the shore.

“When I saw land I was kind of happy,” Robbescheuten said. “But as I stepped toward the bulrushes my left leg went in and then my right leg went in and both legs were caught in the muddy bottom. This lake is known for that.”

Robbescheuten first called friends in Oshawa to help him, but then dialled 911. Local firefighters went out on the lake in a Zodiac boat and cast a rope out to pull him back to shore.

Robbescheuten said had he known that he was going to be billed for the rescue, he would have thought twice about calling for help.

The bill is the first one ever sent by the department for a rescue. Robbescheuten said he plans to fight the bill before Scugog council on March 4.

With a report from CTV Toronto’s Janice Golding