Conservation Police, along with state troopers, responded after reports of a boat fire on the Illinois River just before 4:30 p.m. at the Spring Brook Marina in LaSalle County, police say of the State of Illinois.
The incident happened around 4:20 p.m., the IDNR announced on Sunday. A 40ft vessel with 17 people on board had just completed refueling. Based on interviews and a review of video footage, authorities said it appears the explosion occurred from inside the ship.
Several families were on the boat, about to prepare to head out on the water when the boat exploded while they were refueling, conservation police said. Thirteen people from the boat were taken to local hospitals for treatment, the DNR said. One was airlifted to a Chicago hospital with serious injuries. A navy employee was also taken to hospital for treatment of injuries.
The DNR said information about the identities of those involved will not yet be released.
The Illinois Conservation Police is leading the investigation with assistance from the Illinois State Police and the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office.
The river is open, but boaters are advised to drive carefully near the site as the sunken vessel has not been pulled from the water. The boat is still in the water as officers work to contain the fuel.
Authorities and representatives of the US Environmental Protection Agency are at the scene to assist with recovery operations, which are expected to be completed by Sunday afternoon.
Editorial Note: Authorities initially said 15 people were injured in the blast.
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