Scottsboro, Ala. Fire Chief Gene Necklaus on Monday confirmed eight fatalities after an early morning boat fire spread through a dock at Jackson County Park.
Thirty-five boats, houseboats and pontoon craft 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 it hard for firefighters to get to and for people in those boats to escape.
First priority, he said, was getting to people who jumped in the water to escape the fire. Seven people were pulled from the water and treated for minor injuries, mainly for hypothermia from the cold water temperature.
Dive teams responded quickly, the chief said, and continue to search for victims.
Necklaus said it was difficult to determine who might not be accounted for — there was uncertainty about who might have been on boats or how many people might have been on a vessel that was restored by fire or sank in the lake.
Some boats sank at the dock, he said, and some drifted from their moorings and sank.
Necklaus said efforts will continue, probably for days, to identify those killed and notify families, and to account for everyone lost.
He said responders will try to search every vessel and every part of the lake they can to ensure all victims are found.
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