SCOTTBORO, Al. (AP)– A massive fire that killed at least eight people and destroyed dozens of boats in an Alabama marina early Monday was spread so rapidly by the wind that “we didn’t have time to do nothing,” said one resident who survived but lost his brother in the cold water.
Tommy Jones, a Jackson County Park Marina resident, said he also watched helplessly as a small boat containing a woman and her children was engulfed in flames.
Scottsboro Fire Chief Gene Necklaus said all eight people who were known to be missing have been confirmed dead, and “that number could go up, because we don’t know how many were on boats” that sank.
The fire began just after midnight and quickly consumed the dock as people slept. The wooden dock and at least 35 vessels went up in flames and an aluminum roof that covered many of the boats melted and collapsed, cutting off escape routes and raining debris over the area as boaters leaped into the river.
At least seven people were sent to hospitals suffering from exposure to the flames or the frigid water.