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Authorities held a press conference Monday about a fire that killed eight people and destroyed 35 boats.
The fire happened Monday morning at Jackson County Park in Scottsboro.
Right now, the cause remains under investigation.
From Scottsboro Fire Chief Gene Necklaus:
At approximately 12:40 a.m. Scottsboro (AL) Fire responded to report of a boat on ﬁre at Jackson County (AL) Park Marina at Guntersville Lake on the Tennessee River.
Upon arrival, crews found Dock B an estimated 30% involved, including the moored boats. Due to location of the ﬁre and involved boats, ﬁre crews had diﬃculty accessing the oﬀshore portion of the dock and boats.
An estimated 35 boats were completely destroyed prior to extinguishment. All boats moored at Dock B were a total loss. Dock B housed a variety of vessels, from 20 feet to over 40 feet in length. Several of these boats were houseboats that served as a primary residence for occupants.
Seven boat occupants swam to safety or were rescued from the water. Those individuals were transported to Highlands Medical Center in Scottsboro. They were evaluated and released with zero to minor injuries, mostly minor hypothermia from the cold water.
Multiple boats sunk around the dock and surrounding waters. Fire crews, Rescue Squads, and Dive Teams were deployed to search the boats and surrounding waters for victims. These recovery eﬀorts are hindered by the cold water temperature.
Immediate eﬀorts were initiated to account for the occupants of the boats, made diﬃcult due to some occupants reported as leaving in private vehicles. The original unaccounted number was as high as 9 at one point. 8 victims have been recovered at this time. Currently there are no individuals unaccounted for. That unaccounted may change as additional information becomes available.
From an environmental perspective, initial containment eﬀorts have been deployed for any fuels or contaminates released into the water. At this point it does not appear any contaminates have not released into the main river channel nor encroached on any water treatment intakes. Alabama Department of Environmental Management will oversee the cleanup eﬀort.
Multiple state, regional, and local resources are on-site and will remain on site throughout the operation. Because of the diﬃculty accounting for occupants, we expect the recovery operation to last for several more days as we want to ensure all the vessels are cleared as they are removed. That is the primary objective right now, making sure that all victims are found. Following that, the Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Oﬃce, in coordination with Scottsboro Fire and Scottsboro Police investigators and the ATF will process the cause determination.
We ask that citizens avoid the area as the operation continues, we also ask that everyone remember the victims, families, and responders in their thoughts.
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