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Alabama’s 8 boat dock fire victims identified, including mother and her five children

Eight people killed in a boat dock fire in northeastern Alabama were identified Wednesday, including a mother and her five children, the Jackson County coroner said.

The mother was identified as Grace Annette Watson Miles, 40 and her children as Christopher Zane Long, 19; Bryli Anniston Long, 16; Trayden Dominic Miles, 10; Kesston Damien Miles, 9; and Dezli Nicole Miles, 7.

A GoFundMe page for the family has raised nearly $20,000 by Wednesday.

The other two victims of Monday morning’s blaze at Jackson County Park Marina at Guntersville Lake were Amanda Foster, 38, and Yancy Ferrell Roper, 54, according to Jackson County Coroner John Jordan.

While officials said Tuesday the preliminary investigation was focused on “one boat in particular,” Jackson County Emergency Management Director Paul Smith told reporters further examination determined that was the wrong vessel.

State and federal investigators are searching for a 40- to 45-foot “boat of interest” but several vessels have matched that description, according to Smith.

Smith said many vessels at the dock burned down to the water line, hampering the ability of investigators to identify them.

Fire extinguishers on the dock were working and had been inspected in October, according to Smith.

The fire, starting not long after midnight, tore through numerous boats that were docked at the lake. Some boats were occupied, and flames forced several people to jump into the water.

Some of the roughly 35 destroyed vessels were houseboats where people lived full time. Seven people swam to safety or were rescued, and were taken to a hospital for treatment, officials said. They were treated and quickly released, the fire department said, and some ha dminor injuries or minor hypothermia from the cold water.

Smith said Tuesday that work crews were recovering debris and containing and collecting fuel that spilled. Water samples were being taken.

There are simultaneous investigations being conducted by the US Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board as well as the State Fire Marshal and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Firefighters arrived around 12:40 a.m. local time Monday to a chaotic scene, Scottsboro Fire Chief Gene Necklaus told HLN.

“People … were jumping into the water, either off the back of their boats or retreating to the end of the dock just trying to avoid the fire before they had to,” Necklaus said Tuesday. “Several people would pile up in a boat, it appears, and then try to push away from the dock.

“But boats were burning, floating off, bumping into each other and setting other boats on fire just as fast as you can imagine.”

The fire’s location — on a covered dock that extended well out into the lake — made it difficult for firefighters to access, Necklaus told reporters a day earlier.

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