Salvage crew captain explains difficulties in recovering burned boats at Jackson County Park

He expects his divers to being working for at least the next 2 weeks.

Posted: Jan 29, 2020 6:15 PM
Updated: Jan 29, 2020 7:51 PM

Crews worked into the night Wednesday at Jackson County Park to find and salvage the boats that burned in Monday's deadly fire.

Capt. Shane O'Neal, from Southern Marine Towing and Salvage, said his crew has 28 boats that sank still to recover, and it's no easy job because of how burned they are.

Authorities said right now they are focusing on one vessel in particular as the boat where the fire started. That boat was pulled from the water early Wednesday evening and will be taken to a secure location, according to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.

Officials are not saying what caused the fire.

We talked with the captain of the divers who are working to recover all the debris and burned boats. He told us this is a job unlike any other they've ever responded to.

"This is not a normal salvage operation here because we have 31 boats that have been completely burnt. Because there is nothing left of the vessels we are having to rig them to the best we can get a hold of them to get them out of the water," O'Neal said.

He said his divers are in wet suits to help protect them from the chemicals and fuel in the water. He explained when they're diving at best they can see 2 to 3 feet in front of them.

O'Neal said his crews hope to have all 31 of the remaining boats out of the water in the next 2 weeks. Right now, crews are being asked by authorities to focus on finding the boat where the fire might have started.

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