St. Stephen — A snowmobile club outside St. Stephen had to be evacuated yesterday when members partying at the clubhouse discovered a gas leak.
The leak occurred at approximately 4 p.m., shortly after the Charlotte County Slednecks’ annual Five-Bean Chili Cookoff. Nobody was injured and emergency personnel did not respond to the alarm, although many club members were seen rolling outside in obvious agony, clutching their throats and gasping for fresh air.
“There I was, working on a Bud Light in the corner when people started smelling gas,” said Shawn Harvey, of McAdam. “In all my years as a volunteer firefighter, I’ve never encountered anything like this. Everybody knew we had to bail out of that shack, fast.”
Aldo Levesque of St. George agreed. “That gas was awful,” he said. “It was pretty clear that if we stayed in that snowmobile shack, we wouldn’t survive. I got out of there as fast as I could.”
Although there has been no official investigation, local emergency services providers say this isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened at the chili cookoff; in 1997 they advised members to halt the annual tradition after 14 people were trampled trying to escape a gas leak.