The fire took place at Jackson County Park in Scottsboro, Alabama, which includes a boat ramp, a dock and a restaurant. The fire was reported just after midnight, while people living in the boats were sleeping. The blaze is believed to have quickly consumed the aluminum roof and wooden dock covering the boats.
— ABC News (@ABC) January 27, 2020
According to Jackson County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Rocky Harnen, it has been challenging for rescuers to reach the victims. At least two bodies have been recovered from the water, and some six or seven people who had places on the dock are still unaccounted for.
“They had slips here,” Harnen said, according to CBS News. “That doesn’t mean they’re in the water, and it doesn’t mean they’re dead. We’re making attempts to find them.”
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"The damage from the dock has fallen on top of the boats, and some of the boats have drifted off," he explained.
"There were numerous people rescued from the water who had escaped by going into the water. We're trying to get divers down here to search for possible victims in the water,” Harnen added.
The fire consumed the B dock, which was about 50 yards from the A dock, where Mandy Durham and her boyfriend’s boat was located.
— Reuters (@Reuters) January 27, 2020
"We woke up hearing screams and popping noises. When we woke up, we could see red through the window. Within 15 to 20 minutes, the whole dock was in flames. All these boats have propane tanks and gas tanks, and that’s a lot of fire,” Durham is quoted as telling the Associated Press.
According to Durham, many people were forced to jump onto a boat at the end of the B dock because all the boats in the middle part of the dock had been consumed by fire. However, the flames quickly spread to that vessel as well.
"Water was the only place they had to go," Durham said. “It's just extremely sad. It's horrible.”
The Jackson County Emergency Management Agency is conducting rescue operations taking place on land and in the water.