Right place, right time: Moose Federation driver aids snowmachiner

KENAI — Quick thinking and the proper safety equipment helped Kenai Peninsula resident Laurie Speakman come to the aid of a teen whose snowmobile caught fire Tuesday.

Speakman is a volunteer driver for the Alaska Moose Federation who picks up the animals when they are hit and killed and brings them to a number of predetermined charities and food banks. Trucks used by the federation to salvage carcasses off the roads had to be updated in 2015 while the organization underwent leadership and funding changes, and one of those updates was put to good use on Tuesday when Speakman came upon a teenager who was stuck on the side of highway with a burning snowmobile.

“I actually had just gotten done dropping off a charity moose,” Speakman said.

As she made her way back home from Kenai along Kalifornsky Beach Road, Speakman said she saw the boy waving his arms and throwing snow on the machine. The two of them doused the flames and she returned later with a second fire extinguisher because the snowmobile was still steaming, she said.

“He was just driving along and all of a sudden he smelled smoke,” Speakman said of the teen.

The extinguishers were installed in 2015 as part of the federation’s effort to get all of its salvage trucks certified to Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities standards. Each truck is now required to have an extinguisher on board to meet the certification that allowed the federation to begin collecting funds through a contract with DOT in 2015, since clearing dead moose off the highways qualifies as a Highway Safety Improvement Project.

“I am thrilled to death that we’ve got fire extinguishers in the truck,” Speakman said, explaining that she didn’t at first see how drivers would get much use out of them.

• Megan Pacer is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion and can be reached at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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