Labrador man suing after snowmobile caught fire — while he was out for ride

A Happy Valley-Goose Bay man who survived his snowmobile bursting into flames — while he was out for a ride — has launched and lawsuit and wants Transport Canada to investigate what went wrong with the machine.

"I never thought something would be that drastic and the explosion, and the fright," says Tony Curlew.

The incident happened last March on Lake Melville. Curlew was riding his Ski-Doo, a 2016 BRP Extreme 800 E-TEC,  when he suddenly felt an intense heat rise up from the machine. 

"I don't know if I was thrown, ejected or jumped from the snowmobile ... Then I jumped up and ran towards the snowmobile. It was engulfed in flames like a fuel-fed fire," Curlew said.

Stranded, and dodging shotgun shells that were firing off because of the fire, Curlew was thankful for a nearby cabin owner who saw the black smoke and offered him a warm spot to wait for help. 

Transport Canada should 'step in'

Curlew bought the  $26,000 machine from Notre Dame Recreation, a local dealership, and said it hadn't been working properly for awhile.

He had brought it back to the dealer several times in the week before the fire, and said the technicians couldn't tell him what was wrong.

While he didn't have insurance on his machine, the snowmobile was still covered under the manufacturer warranty. But, Curlew said, he has been told he isn't getting a replacement because the machine was damaged by fire — which Curlew calls unfair.

But, more than a new machine, Curlew wants Transport Canada to "investigate this and make this right."

"To this day, I'm more upset over the fact that regulatory authorities haven't looked into this," he said. 

Submitted by Tony Curlew

Curlew says he reached out to Transport Canada and was told the incident would have to be part of a trend before an investigation is launched. 

Since that contact, Curlew said another snowmobile in Labrador, of the same make and model, has also caught fire and burned, pointing to a video posted to Facebook of a burning snowmobile on Feb. 4. CBC News asked the person who posted the video for an interview, but they declined.

"I'd like for this to be resolved ... I guess we'll let the courts decide. But I can't see any reasonable person not seeing how this is wrong. And the governing agency, BRP, the local dealer, they just need to make this right," said Curlew.

Curlew has filed a lawsuit against BRP as well as the dealer. 

When contacted by CBC News, Ford Penney, the owner of the dealership, said, "No comment." 

BRP and Transport Canada have not yet responded to CBC's request for comment. 

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