8 deaths confirmed in Scottsboro

8 deaths confirmed in Scottsboro

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SCOTTSBORO, Ala. – Fire raced through an Alabama dock Monday, killing at least eight people and torching dozens of boats as people leaped into the Tennessee River to escape the roaring flames.

Scottsboro Fire Chief Gene Necklaus said eight people believed to be missing were confirmed dead. He said the death toll could rise as rescue workers access sunken hulls.

Thirty-five boats, houseboats and pontoon vessels burned in the fire. Some were docked for recreation, but for some the boats were their homes. Necklaus said the blaze was on the inland side of the dock, making rescues difficult.

The scene Jan. 27, 2020, after a fire at a boat dock near Scottsboro, Ala., destroyed 35 watercraft and left eight people dead, according to the city's fire chief.

Seven people were pulled from the water and treated for minor injuries, mainly for hypothermia from the cold water, he said. Some boats sank at the dock, he said, and some drifted from their moorings and sank. 

Jackson County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Rocky Harnen said efforts to find all the boats, account for all the missing, identify those killed and notify families could take several days.

“There were numerous people rescued,” Harnen said. “We’re trying to get divers down here to search for possible victims.”

This photo provided by Mandy Durham shows a fire burning on a dock where at least 35 vessels, many of them houseboats, were destroyed by fire early Jan. 27, 2020, in Scottsboro, Ala.

Julie Jackson awoke to a crackling sound, in the boat that she, her husband and child have made their home for five years now.

They moor at Dock A in Jackson County Park, a row of boat slips normally mirrored by nearby Dock B on Roseberry Lake.

The crackling Jackson heard early Monday was a fast-moving fire that – by the time she got off her boat to look – had engulfed half of Dock B.

“I could hear people screaming ‘help me,’” she told The Gadsden Times, part of the USA TODAY Network. “I never want to go through anything like that again.”

Jackson said in 18 minutes the dock was an inferno.

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