Scottsboro woman who lost house boat in fire describes moments after dock caught fire

The woman and her husband were both treated for hypothermia.

Posted: Jan 27, 2020 7:10 PM
Updated: Jan 27, 2020 8:59 PM

Families are mourning Monday after the deadly fire that killed 8 people, and destroyed 35 boats. 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.

WAAY 31 talked to Valerie Miller, who was one of the people treated for hypothermia. She said she lived on a house boat on the dock with her husband for 5 years and she said last night was like no other night they've ever had.

She said she was woken up just after the fire started by people screaming.

"Several people were out in the middle of the dock and they were screaming fire, and I looked towards the front of the dock and all I could see was just a solid sheet of flames and everything started popping Gas tanks started popping, and it just moved down the dock and vary rapidly," she said.

Miller said she and her husband were so flustered they couldn't get their boat untied, so they got off their boat and got onto another boat with other families.

She said the boat belonged to someone who doesn't live on their boat, but just docks it at the park. She said the group tried to float away from the burning dock.

"We were able to get on a couple of boats and get them untied. We got them out to float, and we were actually hit by burning boats that had broken loose from the dock, and that set the boat we were on on fire," she said.

Miller said she and her husband decided to jump off that boat before it was hit by a burning boat, and she said they waited in the water for rescuers.

Miller explained it seemed like forever before help came, and they were both taken to the hospital to be treated for hypothermia and both of their body temperatures were around 60 degrees.

She said her family is also mourning the loss of their dog. Miller said the dog got scared with all the noises of the fire, and they weren't able to find her before they had to get off the boat.

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