Ice resurfacer catches fire at Port Washington Skating Center

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Ice resurfacer catches fire at Port Washington Skating Center
Port Washington Fire Department Chief Bryan Vogeley (Photo couresy of PWFD)

A youth hockey game was brought to an abrupt end Thursday night when an ice resurfacing machine caught fire at the Port Washington Skating Center.

None of the people in attendance at the rink were hurt, Port Washington Fire Department Chief Bryan Vogeley said, and only the machine caught fire. But the building suffered  smoke and water damage.

“It being plastics and rubbers and metal finishing, that smoke was unusually nasty,” he said. “They will have some clean-up for a while.”

The fire broke out at the rink, located at 70 Seaview Blvd., shortly after 8 p.m. About 65 firefighters from seven departments responded to the fire, according to Newsday, and the situation was under control by 9:30 p.m.

Vogeley said that the fire was started by a malfunction in the machine, which was sitting in its storage area off the ice. The smoke was so thick that he said firefighters had to cut open parts of the rink’s roof in order for the smoke to clear out of the building.

One firefighter sustained minor injuries but was released from the hospital that same night.

Vogeley said the fire departments managed an effective response because they had dealt with a similar situation before. Twelve years ago on New Year’s Eve, another ice resurfacing machine caught fire in the same spot. On that occasion, though, the propane tank on the machine exploded, causing great structural damage to the building. Vogeley said no one was hurt because an instructor at the rink who served as a volunteer firefighter was able to evacuate everyone before the explosion.

“It’s just a freak thing that happens,” Vogeley said.

Using their experience last time, the firefighters were able to put out the fire while limiting their exposure to an explosion.

“We can’t just rush in there, because if [the propane tanks] did blow, it could cause serious injury,” he said. “Luckily, having done this before, there was some pre-planning.”

According to Newsday, the ice rink owner was issued a violation for not having a working fire alarm system. Efforts to reach rink management were unavailing.

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