INDIAN POND TOWNSHIP — A group of whitewater rafters was struck by lightning Friday morning while they sat at a picnic table in a remote area by Indian Pond. Six were injured, at least three seriously.
Indian Pond is at the head of the Kennebec River, northeast of West Forks in Somerset County.
According to Ernest DeLuca, recreation manager for Union Water Co., the incident happened about three miles north of the south end of the lake, on the east shore. Union Water Co. operates the Indian Pond Campground for Central Maine Power, but DeLuca said the campers were on land leased by Huber Industries. The campsites are rustic, he said, with no utilities.
DeLuca said eight adults were sitting at a picnic table in a campsite about 10:15 a.m. when the lightning from a quick-moving thunderstorm struck a nearby tree and sheeted off the ground.
DeLuca brought the injured back to Indian Pond Campground by boat to meet responding ambulances.
Six people were injured. Three had first-, second- and third-degree burns and three sustained minor burns. They were transported by Bingham ambulances to Redington Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan. Two people were uninjured.
According to a spokesperson at the hospital, one person was transferred to Maine Medical Center in Portland, three were admitted to RFGH and two were still being assessed in the emergency room late in the afternoon.
“The storm moved in fairly quickly,” said DeLuca. “It got very dark, the lightning began and it lasted about 45 minutes,” he said.
DeLuca said he could not release the identity of the victims, but added that he believed they were from out-of-state and were being guided by a local whitewater rafting company. He said the group had planned to raft later Friday.