Questions remain day after deadly fire at Scottsboro boat dock

We’re working to gather more information about the fire that killed eight people.

Posted: Jan 28, 2020 8:58 AM
Updated: Jan 28, 2020 3:55 PM

Crews are heading back to Jackson County Park on Tuesday to comb through the wreckage left behind by a deadly fire at Dock B. Eight people were killed in that fire and 35 boats were destroyed.

Four of the eight people who died were children, according to the Jackson County coroner. The ages of the children are 7, 9, 10, and 16. There also is a 19-year-old sibling.

At least one of the victims was a drowning victim. The bodies are significantly damaged, and dental records and DNA may be needed to make identifications.

On Monday, the Southern Marine Towing and Salvage Group pulled a fifth boat from the dock before calling it a day. Right now, there are at least 30 boats to recover in the water.

Rescue crews will comb through the debris over the next few days, looking for any other bodies or destroyed boats. Four boats drifted away and sank into the water after the fire. The U.S. Coast Guard recommended officials recover those first on Tuesday.

The Scottsboro fire chief, Gene Necklaus, says crews are focusing on one boat in particular that may have been the origin of the fire, but they haven’t ruled out other boats yet. He says there were initial reports that the fire originated on this boat. It is now in a secure location.

Necklaus says there were about 21 to 22 permanent residents at the dock. When fire crews arrived, they noticed the fire appeared closer to the shore and it then spread. He says most of the bodies were found in boats.

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management has sampled the water three times since Monday, and it will continue to for the rest of the week until it’s determined there’s no more environmental impact. Right now, there’s no timeline for the chemical test results. 

Things like batteries, sewage and gas are all in the water but are currently contained. People are asked to avoid the water in the meantime.

Firefighters were first called to the scene about 12:40 a.m. Monday. They found the boat dock engulfed in flames. The Jackson County Sheriff's Office tells WAAY 31 Scottsboro police were responding to a nearby business, and the owner is a rescue squad member.

Authorities say 17 different agencies helped at the scene, including the Morgan County Dive Squad, Scottsboro Fire and police, the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency and Alabama State Troopers.

The sheriff's office says the death toll could have been higher if not for the fast response time from these agencies.

We still don't know the identities of the victims as families are being notified. A vigil was held for them Monday night by Faith Covenant Church of God in Scottsboro.

A relief fund has been set up at a local bank. People can go to any F.N.B. Bank location to donate. They can reference the "Jackson County Park Disaster Relief Fund.”

The bank is open Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

We’ll continue to follow this story. Stay with WAAY 31 on air and online for updates.


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