ANDROSCOGGIN VALLEY – Opening weekend for the
Ride the Wilds OHRV trail system attracted hundreds of riders to the region with
a special celebration held Saturday at Jericho Mountain State Park.
"Opening day for trails in the Androscoggin Valley was a huge success," said Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Coordinator Paula Kinney. "The town of Gorham and the city of Berlin were buzzing with OHRVs," she said.
The Ride the Wilds OHRV Coalition along with the Androscoggin Valley ATV Club and the chamber held a trail opening celebration from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. up at the White Mountain Ridge Runners Warming Hut at the park. The three organizations hosted a barbecue at the warming hut for riders.
North Country State Senator Jeff Woodburn and Lisa Whally, general manager of HK Powersports, helped pick the winner of the raffle for a 2014 Polaris Sportsman ATV donated by HK Powersports of Laconia and Hookset. The winner was Russ Holbrook of Andover, Mass. The raffle raised almost $12,000 for the Ride the Wilds Coalition.
In Gorham, the fire department and emergency service held a pancake breakfast Saturday morning and the Presidential OHRV Club in Gorham hosted a poker run that took contestants into the park before ending up at the Gorham town common for entertainment.
The opening of the trail system meant OHRVs could again travel on city and town roads and it was common to see them at local businesses and restaurants.
Fire engulfs new ATV
For one new ATV owner, his maiden ride on his vehicle was an experience he will not soon forget.
Keith Watson of Alton was trying out his brand new Polaris ATV for the first time when the vehicle caught on fire. Berlin Fire Captain John Lacasse said it was a close call for Watson who escaped just before the fire spread to the entire ATV. While Watson survived the fire, his ATV did not. Lacasse said the ATV is a total loss,.
Watson was traveling on the Success Trail, not far from the intersection with Seven Boys Trail, when Lacasse said he looked in his rear view mirror and saw flames coming from the back of his two seater. Watson unbuckled his seatbelt and jumped off just as the flames engulfed the entire ATV. Lacasse said the flames singed Watson's jacket.
Berlin Fire Department got the 911 call about 11:30 a.m. Saturday morning and responded on the department's ATV with three firefighters. The fire burned a small area around Watson's ATV but firefighters were successful in containing it. Lacasse said the fire burned so intense that the flames reached about 20 feet up on a nearby pine tree. Given the dry and windy conditions, Lacasse said the situation could have been much more serious.
"We're very fortunate it didn't go further than it did," he said. Lacasse said the cause of the fire has not been determined, the extensive damage to the ATV making that difficult, if not impossible. Mr. Auto towed the ATV from the scene.
Kinney said opening weekend for the trail system kicks off a busy summer for the chamber with Wingzilla, the ATV festival, and Riverfire all scheduled.