'There was nothing they could do’: Neighbor vows to help after witnessing deadly marina fire

Updated: Jan. 28, 2020 at 9:38 PM CST
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JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - Multiple agencies are looking at evidence and debris to try to determine what started a fire that killed eight people, including four children.

A woman who saw the devastating fire at Jackson County Park Marina says what happened is heartbreaking. Now she’s fighting for those who lost everything.

Julie Jackson lives just a few hundred feet away from Dock B at Jackson County Park Marina. She was home when her neighbor’s houseboat caught fire.

“We watched everyone of those boats burn. We watched the dock collapse. We knew there was going to be people lost. There was nothing they could do. That could have easily been us,” Johnson said.

These were neighbors, who Jackson calls family, who lost more than their houseboat that night. Eight people died. It’s a reality Jackson says she can’t yet wrap her mind around.

“It’s just devastating. There’s no other word for it. A tragic loss of life, a tragic loss. That babies, they didn’t make it," she said.

Jackson is making it her mission to make sure there’s help close by if this happens again. She says she knows firefighters did all they could, but she says the marina she calls home needs a rescue boat docked in case of emergencies.

“I am a resident here. I don’t plan to leave this dock. I love living here but it’s a priority now. This has happened. We have to have something. We have to because if the fire starts at the start of the dock and spreads as quick as that one did nobody will survive,” she said.

Johnson says she’ll be at the next commission meeting to ask about a permanent rescue boat at the marina. She says she’ll keep asking until something is done.

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