Officials confirm deaths as fire destroys 35 boats in Alabama
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A fire along the Tennessee River in Scottsboro, Ala., killed an unknown number of people and destroyed at least 35 docked boats, officials said Monday.

The fire began shortly after midnight, consuming much of a wooden dock and an aluminum roof covering the boats, The Associated Press reports. In addition to the deaths, seven people were hospitalized and another seven reported missing. 

“There were numerous people rescued from the water who had escaped by going into the water,” Jackson County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Rocky Harnen told the AP in the early hours of Monday morning. “We’re trying to get divers down here to search for possible victims.”

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“We woke up hearing screams and popping noises. When we woke up, we could see red through the window,” Mandy Durham, whose boat was moored at the river’s A dock, said. She said that she and her boyfriend were awoken by the blaze.

“Within 15 to 20 minutes, the whole dock was in flames,” she said. “All these boats have propane tanks and gas tanks, and that’s a lot of fire.”

Durham said most of the destroyed boats had people who lived on them permanently. She said numerous boat owners were forced to leap into the river as the flames spread too far for them to retreat farther onto the dock.

“Water was the only place they had to go,” she told the news service. “It's just extremely sad. It’s horrible.”