A loud explosion sent shockwaves over the waters of Clark Lake this afternoon, surprising both those on the water and on land.  It emanated from a jet ski, setting not far from the shoreline, west of Mud Point.   Most effected was the person who had been sitting on it.  A witness said the explosion launched the person 10-feet in the air.

Fire Chief Scott Cota, who was off duty at the time, noticed the smoke while on the road and had heard the call come in at 5:08 pm.  He was at the scene within 30 seconds.  Upon investigating, he learned that a new engine had been installed on the jet ski.  Ten gallons of gas had been put in the tank.  The operator took it for a 30-minute rider, and returned to the same location.  He then added another 5 gallons of gas.  Shortly thereafter, the explosion occurred.  Chief Cota says the explosion was caused by leaking fuel and vapor.  He believed it had gone through too much gas in a short amount of time indicating a fuel leak in the engine compartment.  “When I arrived, the rider was trying to put the fire out with an extinguisher.  I had him leave the jet ski burning for fear of a secondary explosion as the fire heated the internal parts of the motor.  As soon as he got away from the jet ski, it erupted again.”

Chief Cota analyzed the situation and chose not to use foam to extinguish the flame, but to let the fire burn itself out. “Otherwise several gallons of gas would be released into the lake.  While the foam we use is not toxic, dispensing the fire retardant would also have added to the potential pollution.”   As the fire burned itself out, the department kept a close eye.  After the burn off, they “hit it with a hose.”  Then the jet ski sank partially submerged.  The fire resulted in total loss, so the task ahead will be to drag the carcass out of the lake.

Both the chief and EMS personnel examined the individual.  Though injuries were not thought to be serious, the person traveled to the hospital to be checked out.


Kenrick Hahaw video

Thanks to John Calhoun, Sheri Bush, and B.J. Lyons for photos and/or other contributions to this story.