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Pine Ridge has had a rough year. It has been quite difficult to keep snow on the hill. Each time we got natural snow, or they made snow we would have a warm up and the snow would disappear. We finally got snow on the hill in Mid-February and managed, despite some weather circumstances which were unfavorable, to stay open through the February school vacation. We were open this weekend. During the week they were able to lay down a nice carpet. Skiing was the best it had been all year and there was even some talk about trying to open next weekend.
The area will be closed tomorrow, there is a Snowmobile hill climb and a snowmobile cross. Today they were getting a jump ready for the event and trucking in snow. There were several large trucks bringing snow from the lot to make the landing for the hugh jump they brought in for the event. Groomers were moving the snow with the help of a Bobcat and a loader. It was pretty noisy around there.
At around 2, when I was standing near the rope watching the hill, I heard a hugh "BANG" and turned toward the group working on the jump tosee ifit came from there. It had not. As I looked toward the T-Bar I saw a flame jumping out of the end of the exhaust pipe, then there was another, louder "BANG" and the flame jumped about 6 ft high and appeared to be coming out of the roof of the lift house too.
The lift was still running, the operators standing outside of the house with the return wheel and the motor. I called to them and told them to shut down, they had a fire.
The lift was shut down and evacuated and the ropetow area was also shut as a precaution. (we didn't know what caused the fire and if it was going to blow). The fire department was called from the lodge while the area was being cleared. After the lift was stopped with the emergency switch at the top of the lift, the flames continued for a few minutes and then went out. The fire department arrived and inspected the building and the motor. The lift could not be opened again and will most likely need to be replaced. RIP Hall T-bar.