CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the vehicle was a Zamboni. The story has been corrected to reflect that it was an Olympia-branded ice resurfacer.
A resurfacer became the hottest thing on ice at a community rink in upstate New York on Wednesday, when the machine caught fire in front of dozens of horrified parents and children.
The incident happened before a youth hockey practice at Bill Gray’s Regional Iceplex in Brighton, N.Y., on Wednesday evening. The driver was not injured and no others were harmed, according to reports.
Videos captured by onlookers shows the ice resurfacer was leaking red fluid as soon as it rolled onto the ice. Smoke could be seen rising from the vehicle as it crossed centre ice for its first lap, then fire erupted underneath it and quickly spread to the machinery beside the driver’s seat in a matter of seconds.
The driver kept his cool despite the flames raging beside him. He continued on his half-lap around the rink — past dozens of parents and children — before returning to the vehicle’s bay to put out the fire.
Parents could be heard gasping as the driver passed them in the flaming vehicle.
Junior hockey scout Russ Bitley tweeted a photo and video of the ice resurfacer as it passed the throng of onlookers while engulfed in flame.
“Just 2020 being 2020,” he wrote.
“A scary moment after my son’s practice tonight,” hockey mom Mary Prusak tweeted. “Grateful everyone is safe!”
Prusak’s tweet included a clip from a livestream camera at the rink, which showed the moment when the resurfacer caught fire.
The livestream footage shows the driver completing his lap and returning to the bay in a matter of 30 seconds.
A hose broke on the vehicle and leaked hydraulic fluid onto the ice and motor to spark the fire, arena management told local station WHAM-TV.
WFLA reports that the driver stayed on the vehicle and brought it back to the bay to avoid a potential propane tank explosion close to the spectators.
The driver had put out the flames by the time firefighters arrived, according to Lt. Ryan Fleming of the Rochester Fire Department.
“When we got there we helped him get the Zamboni outside and made sure the fire was completely out,” Fleming told the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper.
Much like Kleenex and tissues, the Zamboni brand has become an unofficial nickname for all ice resurfacers. However, the company pointed out on Thursday that the burning vehicle was an Olympia brand.
“The machine on fire in the video was not manufactured by the Zamboni Company,” a spokesperson told Global News.
The dramatic but harmless incident prompted a flurry of jokes on Twitter, where many compared it to the story of David Ayres.
Ayres, who was the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Zamboni driver, famously stepped in as an emergency goaltender for the visiting Carolina Hurricanes last year and helped defeat his hometown team.
“I bet even that Zamboni driver could beat the Leafs,” one hockey fan tweeted.
“Not the first time a Zamboni driver has been on fire on the ice this year,” another joked.
Others hailed the unknown driver for his commitment to the job.
“A true captain of his ship,” The Morning Skate podcast tweeted.
“Zamboni driver won’t let a little (fire) stop him from doing his job,” another user added.
NOTE: This story has been corrected to reflect that the burning vehicle was not a product of the Zamboni Company.
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