SHERILL’S FORD, NC (WBTV) - A woman had to be airlifted with serious burns after she was reportedly blown off a boat when it caught fire on Lake Norman Monday.
According to officials, the incident happened in the Sherrills Ford area of the lake, near the Slanting Bridge access area.
Five people were reportedly on the boat, which had just left shore, when it caught fire around 5 p.m. Monday.
According to witnesses, four people were seen jumping from the boat before it reportedly exploded. A fifth person, a woman, was blown off the boat.
"People started jumping off of it, next thing I know it engulfed," said witness Envoy Nance. "There was a few people swimming. Luckily the wildlife officer was right over here - pulled 5 people out of the water."
Two boats of North Carolina Wildlife officers were nearby and saw the explosion. They were able to get to the people in the water and pull them out.
They say the woman who had been blown off the boat was starting to sink into the water when they grabbed her. She was having trouble breathing and was badly burned.
One of the officers spoke about possible causes of the explosion. He said the exact cause of the incident is still unknown though.
"The problem is the motor's actually in the boat, and it has a cover so all the gases get trapped underneath that motor cover, and if (the boaters) do not have their blowers on or a coast guard approved backfire flame arrester, the boat could explode at any time," explained Allen Carlisle, an officer with the agency.
A medical helicopter was called to rush her to the hospital. One other person was taken to the hospital with burns, the other three were uninjured.