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Trail groomer falls through pond ice

Last modified: 1/26/2011 12:00:00 AM
A trail groomer that fell through the ice and into Sandogardy Pond in Northfield on Friday is scheduled to be pulled out today.

The groomer - which weighs 13,500 pounds and rolls on tracks resembling a military tank - fell through a patch of thin ice as it was being used to clear a path across the pond for the Tilton-Northfield Arch Trail Travelers snowmobile club.

According to the Northfield police, the two club members driving the machine were able to escape from the passenger cabin after the groomer sank to the bottom and then swam up 6 feet to the surface of the ice break.

Northfield police Chief Steve Adams said the operators contacted the Department of Environmental Services immediately after escaping from the icy water.

Dive Winnipesaukee, a recovery team, will retrieve the groomer. DES will be on site to make sure no petroleum escapes from the vehicle's fuel tank as it's lifted from the water.

James Martin, spokesman for DES, said the department estimates about 40 gallons of fuel are in the groomer's tank. DES will have absorbing pads and other mitigation materials available if a spill occurs.

Martin said about a dozen vehicles have had to be removed from ponds and lakes this year, in part because of the heavy snowfall, which can act to insulate the water surface and creates a dangerous intermediate layer a slush that doesn't get exposed to the frigid air.


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