Two Scouts remain hospitalized after Gilmanton lightning strike
GILMANTON – All but two of the 23 campers who suffered burns when a lightning bolt struck a tree about 50 feet from their camp shelter have been released from the hospital.
In fact, most of the campers suffered very minor burns, said Gerard Boyle, the scoutmaster at National Youth Leadership Training of the Daniel Webster Council at Camp Bell.
Most just felt tingling, Boyle said, and were sent to the hospital as a precaution, and only a few of the six who were thought to have serious injuries were kept at area hospitals overnight.
"Almost all of them were treated and released," Boyle said.
One, whose name was not released, is still in Concord Hospital and was expected to be kept there overnight for observation.
BELMONT -- Twenty-three Scouts, ages 12-16, and three adult counselors who sought shelter in lean-to suffered electric-shock burns after lightning struck the lean-to at Camp Bell Boy Scout Camp in Gilmanton Monday night.
None of the injures were life-threatening; most were minor. Six of the 23 suffered "somewhat serious" burns, Fire Chief David Parenti said. Seven of the Scouts had very minor burns, he said.
"All 23 of them had burns of some sort," Parenti said. "But even the six (burn victims), we worry about the chest, but they weren't burned too bad, really."
Parenti said he received a call at about 7:30 p.m. from camp officials saying there were numerous campers injured when lightning struck a lean-to.
Parenti described the camp's lean-tos as similar to carports.
As camp officials loaded the 23 campers into a Daniel Webster Council bus and headed toward the nearest manned fire station in Belmont, Parenti and Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid Association dispatchers quickly made a plan, calling nearly two-dozen ambulances from area towns to take the victims to various area hospitals.
Fire officials declared a second-alarm "Mass Casualties Alert," which starts communication between hospitals – about the number of available beds, for instance – ambulances, and rescue crews.
Sometime after 8 p.m., the camp's white bus pulled into the Belmont Fire Department. EMTs and first responders set up a triage system to determine the severity of each child's burn.
Officials determined lightning had gone through the lean-to and burned all the occupants. Some of the minor burns were to feet and fingers. The major burns were to the chest area of the six most-injured patients.
The Scouts were said to be taking the injuries well.
Scouting officials also said the burn victims appeared be doing well.
"Everyone was conscious and alert and stable," Daniel Webster Scout Council spokesman Greg Osborne said.
The most seriously injured were taken by ambulance to several area hospitals: two were taken to Franklin, two went to Concord, and two went to Lakes Region General Hospital. Other children were taken as far away as Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro.
Three counselors from the group refused treatment to save ambulance space, and were praised by firefighters for doing so.
The Scouts came to Camp Bell from all parts of New Hampshire for a leadership conference.
Camp Bell is located on Manning Lake in Gilmanton Iron Works.
The Griswold Scouting reservation is also home to the Hidden Valley Scout Camp; none of the Hidden Valley campers were affected, officials said.