A number of people have died after a fire spread among houseboats moored along the Tennessee River in Alabama.
Residents leapt into the water as the flames ravaged at least 35 vessels in Scottsboro – some of them suffering from burns.
The blaze began at about midnight in Jackson County Park and tore through a wooden dock and an aluminium roof that covered many of the vessels, blocking escape routes.
Many of those on the boats – including families – lived there permanently. There are some “confirmed fatalities”, local police said.
A woman who was on her boyfriend’s boat said they woke up hearing “screams and popping noises” and could “see red through the window”.
“Within 15 to 20 minutes, the whole dock was in flames,” Mandy Durham said.
The fire destroyed the B dock – about 45m (150ft) from the A dock, where Ms Durham’s boyfriend’s boat was moored.
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“All these boats have propane tanks and gas tanks, and that’s a lot of fire,” Ms Durham continued, adding that “water was the only place they had to go”.
Seven people were taken to hospital and another seven reported missing, Scottsboro Fire Chief Gene Necklaus said.
“There were numerous people rescued from the water who had escaped by going into the water,” Jackson County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Rocky Harnen said.
“We’re trying to get divers down here to search for possible victims.”
Mr Harnen added: “We have some confirmed fatalities, but we don’t have an exact number yet.
“We have several people who were taken to the hospital from being in the water, and some had minor burns.
“The damage from the dock has fallen on top of the boats, and some of the boats have drifted off.”
Residents have been searching for their neighbours.
Source : Sky News