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At least 8 people are dead after boats catch fire at an Alabama dock


At least eight people died after an overnight fire destroyed about 35 boats docked in an Alabama lake, authorities said Monday.

Seven others swam to safety or were rescued from the Jackson County Park Marina at Guntersville Lake on the Tennessee River, some 100 miles northeast of Birmingham.

Authorities said late Monday afternoon that it appears everyone is accounted for, although that will not be finalized until all the boats have been removed from the water and inspected.

They earlier thought as many as nine people were unaccounted for, the Scottsboro Fire Department said.

It was difficult to account for all the occupants of the boats since some left in private vehicles. Also, authorities struggled to determine “how many people were staying with who,” Scottsboro Fire Chief Gene Necklaus said.

Recovery efforts could last several days, the Fire Department’s statement said. “That is the primary objective right now, making sure that all victims are found.”

The cause of the fire is unknown.

The boats ranged from 20 to 40 feet long, and some were primary residences.

Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department said it was a “total destruction” of about 35 boats, which were at the covered boat dock.

“The dock is collapsed, (and) we can’t get to all the boats right now,” Harnen said. “We have a list of residents here and we are trying to confirm whereabouts of everyone.”

Some boats sank at the dock and some floated away before sinking, Necklaus said.

The seven people taken to a hospital were treated and quickly released, the Fire Department said. Some had minor injuries or minor hypothermia from the cold water.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives joined agencies from across the state to investigate, including Scottsboro Police, Jackson County and the State Fire Marshal.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the last name of Scottsboro Fire Department Chief Gene Necklaus.

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