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Authorities: 32 people go to hospitals after deck collapse

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LAKESIDE, Mont. (AP) – A total of 32 people were taken to hospitals after the second-story deck of a Montana lodge collapsed during a memorial event for a firefighter, authorities said.

Six people were airlifted via helicopter Saturday shortly after the collapse of the deck in Glacier Presbyterian Camp, Lake County Sheriff Don Bell told NBC Montana. Five people are in critical condition, but there are no reported fatalities, he told the TV stations.

All patients were in stable condition as of 7 p.m. Saturday, and their injuries range from mild to severe, the Somers Rural Fire Department said. The department says those injured range in age from children to the elderly.

About 50 people were gathered to remember William Nickel, a longtime Flathead Valley firefighter who died in April.

Leslie Dillon told the Daily Inter Lake that she was on the deck when it collapsed and that she walked away with bruising. Many of her friends and relatives were taken away in ambulances, Dillon said.

Bell praised the efforts made by the emergency crews.

“When I first got on scene I saw injured people,” he told NBC Montana. “I saw the ambulance crews and firefighters triaging people and stabilizing them whether it was with ankle braces, wrapping someone’s knee or controlling bleeding on someone’s head. The emergency crews did a great job.”

Glacier Presbyterian Camp is on the west shore of Flathead Lake. The camp’s website lists a summer retreat on the weekend of June 17 and 18.

The Somers fire department says the area experienced another balcony collapse about a year ago during a party at a private residence with 20 people involved.

The department says it doesn’t believe the county has regulations on the maximum capacity of balconies or decks.

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