Boat explosion at Lake Catherine leaves 6 injured

Six people were injured after a boat exploded Saturday afternoon on a Lake Catherine boat ramp in Hot Spring County, officials said.

Three people were transported by a helicopter for medical treatment and three people were taken by ambulances after a boat exploded on a ramp just before 1 p.m. Saturday, said Doug Davey, chief of the Lake Hamilton Fire Department. What caused the boat to explode was not immediately clear, he said.

Cheryl Vincent, superintendent of Lake Catherine State Park, said the victims were members of an extended family, including grandparents, parents and children.

Davey said one of his firefighters was off duty at Lake Catherine on Saturday when a boat near the launch exploded.

“He initiated the fire department response by calling me,” Davey said. “So we were headed that way when they called 911 and dispatched us. And since he was in the vicinity when it happened, we were able to provide almost immediate assistance.”

Davey said some gasoline was released into the lake, but that the Fire Department was using booms to remove the hazardous liquid.

“There will be no lasting affects to the lake,” Davey said. “We’re doing that now, and it’ll be cleaned up by the time we leave today.”

The Hot Spring County sheriff’s office, Hot Spring County Department of Emergency Management, Arkansas State Parks, multiple ambulance services, and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission also responded to the explosion, Davey said.

Game and Fish spokesman Keith Stephens said the agency will not be officially investigating the incident because the explosion happened on the lake’s ramp, making the investigation the responsibility of the Hot Spring County sheriff’s office. The agency will be offering its assistance in any way necessary, he said.

Davey said he could not speak to the condition of the victims or to the severity of their injuries.