Wet weather could impact post-fire clean up

Northeast Alabama
Data pix.

SCOTTSBORO, Ala. - Cleanup continues one week after a deadly fire at Jackson County Park. The fire on Dock B killed a mother, her five children, and two other adults. It also displaced more than a dozen others who lived on houseboats there.

TowBoatUS crews dug through murky water Tuesday afternoon.

“The guys are picking up debris that has floated off of the docks and stuff and is on the shore, and we’re trying to get the shoreline cleaned back up,” said TowBoatUS owner Shane O’Neal.

A ride in one of the company boats gave a closer look at the damage from last Monday’s tragic fire. Crumpled roof pieces and charred pieces of dock are all that remain on the surface. A crane continued pulling out sunken boats hidden beneath.

“Hopefully by the end of this weekend we should be seeing the end of this,” said Jackson County EMA director Paul Smith.

Wet weather in the forecast could seriously impact cleanup.

“If we have high winds, out of a storm, it can move this boom around and then it’ll put the debris field and the oil and everything that we have trapped still inside back in the river,” said O’Neal.

He described the huge crane being used to pick up pieces for the sunken boats as a lightning rod. “If it’s within 10 miles, we have to shut down,” said O’Neal.

He added that if there is lightning, they must wait one hour before beginning work again.

While a portion of Jackson County Park is back open so customers can return to KC’s BarBQ, the south end is still off-limits for salvage operations.

O’Neal said his workers plan to have the dock clear as early as Friday, but no later than next Tuesday. Once that is done, they will start removing the absorbent boom which could take another week. O’Neal said around 80% of debris left in the water had been removed over the weekend, by his crews and Hepaco.

The National Weather Service had a meeting with Smith Tuesday afternoon. The NWS said any severe weather is currently expected to happen during non-salvage hours.

Smith told WHNT News 19 that the EPA and ADEM have left the site.

He said ADEM will continue testing the water quality and is expected to publish the results on its website by Friday.

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