Eight People Killed in Midnight Alabama Boat Dock Fire
By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
Eight people were killed and seven others were rescued in an overnight fire that destroyed a boat dock at Jackson County Park in Scottsboro, Alabama, the state news site AL.com reported Monday.
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The names of the victims were not immediately released, Scottsboro Fire Chief Gene Necklaus announced at a morning briefing.
The fire began just after midnight and quickly consumed the dock as people were sleeping, according to the Associated Press. “The wooden dock went up in flames and an aluminum roof that covered many of the vessels melted and collapsed, cutting off escape routes and raining debris over the area as boaters leaped into the river,” AP added.
“There were numerous people rescued from the water who had escaped by going into the water,” Jackson County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Rocky Harnen explained to the AP. “We’re trying to get divers down here to search for possible victims,” he said.
“We woke up hearing screams and popping noises,” Mandy Durham, who was with her boyfriend in a nearby boat, told the AP. “When we woke up, we could see red through the window.”
The whole dock was in flames within 15 to 20 minutes, she said, adding: “All these boats have propane tanks and gas tanks, and that’s a lot of fire.”
Seven Boat Dock Fire Victims Rescued and Taken to Hospital
Firefighters arrived at the scene of the blaze around 12:40 a.m. Seven boat dock fire victims were rescued from the Tennessee River and taken to a hospital for treatment with non-life-threatening injuries. “Most were suffering symptoms of hypothermia because of the cold water,” Chief Necklaus added.
35 Boats Destroyed or Sunk, Search for Boat Dock Fire Victims Continues
"In my experience, [it’s] one of the most devastating things I’ve ever seen. I think as we learn more details, that tragedy will continue to grow,” Necklaus said.
About 35 boats were destroyed. Multiple boats have sunk, and crews were working to pull them from the water.
It could take several days to complete the cleanup, Necklaus said, according to AL.com. As crews remove debris from the water, they will check for additional victims, the chief added.