Death toll in Alabama fire rises to eight

Washington, Jan 28
The death toll in a fire which destroyed a dock containing around 35 boats in the US state of Alabama rose to eight, with more fatalities feared, local media reported.

All eight people known to be missing were confirmed dead, said Scottsboro Fire Chief Gene Mecklaus, adding "that number could go up, because we don't know how many were on boats."

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Mecklaus said at least seven people were rescued on the scene and transferred to hospital for treatment of their injuries.

About 35 boats were consumed in flames, some of them sinking and others floating away, as a result of the fire in Jackson County Park in Scottsboro, according to Mecklaus.

"The dock is collapsed; we can't get to all the boats right now," said Jackson County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen. "We have a list of residents here and we are trying to confirm (the) whereabouts of everyone."

The blaze was reported shortly after midnight, when people residing in the boats were sleeping. The fire consumed the wooden dock and an aluminum roof covering many of the vessels, cutting off escape routes for people and debris fell into the water, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Scottsboro Fire Department, Scottsboro Police Department, Jackson County Sheriff's Office, along with other agencies and volunteers, were on the scene responding to the incident.

The cause of the fire was under investigation by the State of Alabama Fire Marshals Office and the Scottsboro Fire Department, according to Harnen.

Information on Jackson County Park's website shows the park has a walking trail, boat ramps, and fishing and swimming docks on the Tennessee River.