There’s a lot of work ahead, but Chris Beckett is confident the Governor’s Express chair lift at Marble Mountain can be repaired and ready for the upcoming ski season.
The 100-chair lift was badly damaged on Friday after a lift shack at the top of the mountain caught fire. A cable supporting the chair lift snapped during the fire and the lift collapsed to the ground. The top terminal for the lift, lift shack, cable and chairs were damaged.
Beckett, general manager of Marble Mountain Resort, was at the downhill ski resort on Saturday to survey the damage. The area around the lift was roped off to keep the many curious onlookers out and security guards were stationed at the base. But even from a safe distance, the cable that normally supports the chairs could be seen sagging and chairs sitting on the ground.
“We’re pushing to get it ready for the winter season,” Beckett said later in the afternoon. “We’re going to work as hard as we can to get that thing ready for opening day.”
With five months to go, no unforeseen challenges and the availability of parts, Beckett said completing the repairs should be possible with the process already started.
Marble has been in touch with the lift manufacturers who are sourcing parts. And more will be known this week when the manufacturers visit the hill.
Once a complete assessment of the damage is made, the resort will know more on what the cost to repair the lift will be.
Marble Mountain has insurance and has been in touch with investigators. And with a portion of its operating funds coming from the provincial government, Beckett has also spoken with the premier.
The assumption right now is that the fire was caused by a lightning strike. But with no one around to verify it, Beckett said, that will have to be determined by the investigation.
Reports that it was a lightning strike resulted in some questions on social media on whether or not the resort had any lightning prevention equipment in place.
Beckett said there is lightning prevention on all the resort’s lifts and the investigation needs to be done to determine what happened.
“All we know is there’s been a fire,” Beckett said.
A lightning strike atop Marble Mountain in Steady Brook caused the popular ski hill’s high-speed chair lift to completely collapse, a local resident says.
Janice Colbourne and her husband Kieran Rousseau were watching the lightning storm from the window of their Steady Brook home Friday evening when the couple saw two bolts of lightning hit the top of Marble Mountain.
The strikes reportedly occurred around 6 p.m.
Soon after, a neighbour called Colbourne to tell her that smoke was visible from the mountain. Rousseau went to investigate and discovered the lift shack, which houses some of the mechanisms for that run the chair lift’s cables, was ablaze.
The Steady Brook Volunteer Fire Department quickly arrived on the scene, but Colbourne says it was about 20-30 minutes before they could get their trucks all the way up the mountain to begin to douse the fire.
As the lift shack continued to burn, the cable supporting the chair lift snapped, a noise that Colbourne described as “like a big clap of thunder” that echoed throughout the community.
She said her husband called from the scene to tell her what happened. He said the entire chair lift had collapsed to the ground below, but everyone at the scene appeared to be uninjured.
“One of the propane tanks exploded while I was on the phone talking to my husband,” she said. “It was scary.”
From the information relayed to her by Rousseau, firefighters continue to douse the blaze, but it appears it has not spread to any of the surrounding trees.