Firefighters, snowmobile club assist man whose snowmobile ‘burst into flames’
FORT KENT, Maine — A Pennsylvania couple visiting the St. John Valley for a snowmobiling adventure over the weekend saw their vacation cut short when one of their snowmobiles caught fire mid-ride.
“The operator of the sled said he was driving along the trail when all of a sudden his snowmobile burst into flames,” Fort Kent Fire Chief Ed Endee said on Tuesday.
The man’s wife was travelling with him on a separate snowmobile when the fire occurred just after 5 p.m. Saturday on the Heritage Trail behind 348 St. John Road.
Endee did not have the couple’s names, but said the snowmobile was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. Neither the man nor his wife were injured.
The firefighters extinguished the flames using a fire extinguisher and nearby snow.
The fire burned a hole about 3 feet deep in the trail, Endee said, so firefighters did their best to fill in the hole with snow using shovels and placed yellow caution tape around the damaged area of the trail to warn other snowmobilers.
The snowmobile was burnt beyond recognition, so members of the Fort Kent SnoRiders snowmobile club later used their trail groomer to remove the snowmobile from the area and transport it to the Charette Salvage Yard in Fort Kent. The SnoRiders also spent some time repairing the damaged section of trail.
“The snowmobile club provided great assistance to this guy by helping out with his disabled sled, so they should get credit for that,” Endee said.
In an unrelated incident, the Fort Kent Fire Department also received a report of a burning snowmobile “somewhere behind Wilson School Road” on March 14. Before firefighters could locate him, however, the snowmobile operator called back to say he had managed to put out the fire and remove the sled from the trail on his own.
Jim Rioux, president of the Fort Kent SnoRiders said spontaneous snowmobile fires are not an unusual occurrence.
“It happens more often than you would think,” Rioux said.
Endee said firefighters were unable to determine the cause of the fire that destroyed the Pennsylvania man’s snowmobile on Saturday, because it was so severely damaged.
However, Rioux said the man told him “he felt there was a brake sticking which overheated and caught fire.”