1 boat targeted as possible cause of deadly Alabama blaze

SCOTTSBORO, Alabama—Investigators were focusing on one boat in particular as a possible cause of a massive Alabama marina fire that killed eight people and destroyed 35 boats early Jan. 27 at Jackson County Park Marina in Scottsboro, Ala.

County officials said four of the eight people who died were children.

Investigators haven’t yet determined the cause of the blaze, but Fire Chief Gene Necklaus told The Associated Press they were narrowing their focus to a vessel that was docked in an area where witnesses said the flames began.

“It’s fair to say they are at least looking at one boat in particular, not to say that they won’t rule that out and move on to the next area,” he told a news conference.

He also said the boat has already been removed from the water and was taken to a secure area for examination.

Witnesses told AP wind quickly swept flames down a wooden dock where an undetermined number of people were sleeping on boats. AP reported residents described a desperate fight for life, with some piling into boats to get away and others diving into water that was in the mid-50s to swim for their lives.

According to a Red Cross representative, about 25 people were believed to have lived on boats at the dock full time, but it was unclear whether they were all there at the time of the fire.

AP reported state and environmental officials who were on hand said any environmental damage appeared to be minimal.

The dock at Jackson County Park Marina is on a wide creek that feeds into the Tennessee River, but it did not appear pollution from oil, propane gas and other materials had reached the main water, Necklaus told AP.

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