8 people killed, 35 boats destroyed in fire at Scottsboro boat dock

UPDATE: Authorities confirm eight people are dead from the fire. 

The boats destroyed range from house boats to pontoons. Seven people were recovered from the water and transported to Highlands Medical Center. They were treated for minor injuries related to hypothermia and were released.

Courtesy of Mandy Durham

Authorities say the new information does not mean the recovery effort is over. Crews will be checking the entire lake and making sure everyone is accounted for. They are checking debris and boats as they pull them out.

It could take three to four days, if not longer, to remove the boats from the water. After this is completed, fire officials will begin an investigation into the cause of the fire.

The public is asked to avoid the area.

Michael P. Knight, spokesman for the National Center for Explosives Training and Research, sent this news release about the investigation:  "ATF Certified Fire Investigators (CFI) from the National Center for Explosives Training and Research (NCETR) located in Huntsville, AL responded to the fire related incident. The CFI’s will work with our state and local counterparts to determine the origin and cause of the fire scene. The determination will be based on the combination of the items recovered as part of the scene processing along with interviews and witness accounts. The CFI’s regular train and conduct research on fire related issues with our state and local fire counterparts at the NCETR facility in Huntsville, AL. The presence of ATF does not necessary indicate there was a crime committed."

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FROM EARLIER: 

The number of people unaccounted for is now eight. The number of deaths is unknown currently.

These numbers could change as officials determine if there were unknown guests on the boats.

Authorities say the scene and any fuel or chemicals that may have leaked into the water are contained right now. Marine salvage companies are at the scene with equipment to help pull the boats out of the water.

Jackson County Emergency Management Director Paul Smith says the boats and debris have to be moved so divers can get in the water.

"What's left of the boats have to be removed from the slips so that the divers can go down and continue their recovery underneath the docks," he said.

The park is closed Monday and is only open for first responders and those who have reason to be out there.

We’re told several community groups are pitching in to provide food for first responders. The Red Cross is also stepping in to assist.

To see more photos of the fire, click here. If you have your own photos to share, email them to share@waaytv.com.

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ORIGINAL STORY:

First responders are on the scene of a fire at the Jackson County Park in Scottsboro where officials say several people are confirmed dead.

We're told seven people were transported to the hospital and seven are still unaccounted for.

According to Scottsboro's Fire Chief, Gene Necklaus, 35 boats were destroyed in a fire Monday morning. Officials say most of the boats destroyed are house boats. 

"Absolutely devastating, at least in my experience...one of the most devastating things I’ve ever seen,” said Necklaus.

Crews say the fire started close to the shoreline, which made it difficult for them to access it.

Seventeen agencies responded to the scene, including the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, Jackson County Emergency Management, Scottsboro police, Rosalie Fire, Scottsboro Fire, Stevenson Fire, Highlands Medical Center, Jackson County commissioners, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Marine Patrol and the DeKalb County Coroner's Office.

Crews are expected to be at the scene all day and possibly all week. 

Stay with WAAY 31 online and on air for updates. 

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