Prospect yacht explosion nearly severs woman’s foot


by Karma Dickerson

Posted on November 30, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Updated Saturday, Dec 1 at 1:16 AM

PROSPECT, Ky. (WHAS11) -- One woman is hurt, after a yacht caught fire and exploded on Thrusday while in the Marina at the Rose Island Yacht Club in Prospect.

North Oldham firefighters found  a 41 foot yacht fully engulfed in flames when they arrived at the Marina at about two Thursday afternoon.  Firefighter Brent McCarty captured the dramatic images on his cell phone.

“Never seen nothing like it before, never want to see nothing like it again”, says explosion survivor Randy Powell.

Powell owns R&R Marine where he repairs boats for a living.  He and a friend had gone to help the yacht's owners fill the gas tank of the Carver Cruiser when suddenly the engine stalled.

“When we restarted the engine when, we restarted the engine we heard an explosion. We thought we hit something in the Marina”, remembers Powell.

Powell and the owners are fine, but his friend Mellissa Hall was badly hurt.  They jumped from the burning boat and pulled her onto the dock.  Randy's no stranger to dangerous situations, this isn't even his first boat explosion, but he says nothing could have prepared him for what he saw next.

“Her ankle was severed completely it was just skin and ligaments holding it, but she could wiggle her toes, her foot wasn't even attached to her legs”, Powell said.

The North Oldham and Harrod’s Creek Fire Departments were eventually able to fight back the flames to get a medical crew through and put out the blaze in about an hour.

Before fire crews arrived, the survivors also pushed the burning yacht away from the dock to help stop the blaze from spreading.  There was minor damage to some other yachts and the dock.  And the vessel that exploded is almost completely underwater.  However the Assistant Fire Chief Don Dahl of the North Oldham Fire Department says that's nothing compared to what could have happened.

“All things considered the outcome on this was fairly good from a property damage stand point it could have been much, much worse”, Dahl said.

As of Thursday night, Hall was in satisfactory condition at University Hospital.  She’s expected to fully recover.

Dahl believes fuel vapors caused the explosion but the yacht was so badly burned, he doesn’t expect to ever know for certain.

The yacht was removed from the water Friday, photos here.