2 men seriously injured when boxes of fireworks explode at lake

PUTNAM COUNTY, Ga. — Two men are in the hospital for burns suffered when boxes of fireworks exploded on their pontoon boat on the Fourth of July.

Austin Meyer, 25, and James Mallory were planning to create a big fireworks show on Lake Sinclair Wednesday night, but something went wrong.

Rangers with the Department of Natural Resources told Channel 2's Richard Elliot that the men had anchored their boat about 50 feet offshore and had already set off several fireworks when the explosion happened around 10 p.m.

“There were fireworks set up on the boat, some of which had gone off, some of which had not yet,” DNR Sgt. Bo Kelly said.


Rangers say witnesses told them that someone accidentally dropped a sparkler into a box of fireworks.

“A sparkler that one of them had inadvertently fallen into one of the boxes of the mortars and that’s what caused the explosion,” Kelly said.

Kelly was one of the first emergency crews to get to the accident. He says Meyer had burns to his arms, legs and to his face while Mallory had a softball-sized burn on his body.

Both men were airlifted to the burn unit in Augusta.

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is investigating whether alcohol played a part in the accident.