Cleanup continues at Jackson County Park after deadly fire

Northeast Alabama
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SCOTTSBORO, Ala. – Officials have still not discovered the cause of a tragic fire early Monday morning that killed eight people, including a family of five, and sent seven others to the hospital.

The deadly blaze started on a boat on the shore side of Dock B at Jackson County Park just after 12:30 a.m. Monday before quickly spreading to more than 30 other boats.

The Jackson County Coroner identified the victims of the fire Wednesday afternoon.

As their families and friends mourn, cleanup continues.

Salvage crews said there is only one boat that drifted away from the dock and burned still in the water. But they still have a lot to do. They need to clear out all of what is left of the roof and the boats trapped beneath it.

Chunks of boats are disintegrating as they are being pulled from the lake floor.

“I felt guilty for not being here because this is my home and for not being here to help,” said Dock B resident Shannon Stephens Edmonds.

Edmonds was in Birmingham when the fire started, but her husband barely escaped with his life. Now, all she has left are memories. “My husband and I had our wedding reception on this dock and they decorated our boat for the reception,” added Edmonds.

Among the wreckage, salvage crews found meaningful and priceless personal items belonging to the victims.

“When you’ve lost everything that you own. Clothing can be replaced. Furniture can be replaced, photographs, pre-digital cannot be replaced,” said Jackson County EMA Director Paul Smith.

The irreplaceable items somehow survived the fire, but are now in incredibly delicate condition.

“Of course they’re wet and if you get to digging around in that stuff and don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll destroy it so we’re preserving it as it was found in hopes of finding somebody can help us work through that,” said Smith.

A woman has reached out to the Jackson County EMA office to use her skills to preserve these items for the victims’ families. Environmental crews still have blue booms in the water-absorbing the remaining oil and fuel.

“They’ll continue skimming. No estimate on the total but as of yesterday it was about 1,500 gallons,” said Smith.

Smith told WHNT News 19 that ADEM has sampled three different sites and have found no contamination outside of the containment area, which is just over 31,000 square feet.

“That’s about half the size of your average Walmart. It’s a big area,” added Smith.

Smith anticipates change here at the Jackson County Park marina possibly regarding the rules or how the docks will be utilized.

The park manager said Friday afternoon that he and the commissioners will be discussing potential safety measure changes in the coming weeks.

The park is going to be partially reopened on Monday, so that the businesses that have been so helpful all week to first responders and the media here, can get back to work, serving others.

Marine police will still be limiting boat access, though, and the docks will still be off-limits to non-residents.

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