Nine people are lucky to be alive after the house boat they were renting burst into flames Wednesday at Edgar Evins Marina on Center Hill Lake.
"There was a very loud explosion that actually physically shook the building," said Kaye Tuggle, general manager of Edgar Evins Marina.
Tuggle left her office and saw fire and a black plume of smoke rising into the air.
The 83-foot house boat had pulled into the marina to refuel when it caught fire. There were nine passengers aboard at the time.
"The people who rented the house boat were beginning to get off the boat and run down the dock," Tuggle said. "I knew we had two marina employees out there refueling the boat, and I couldn't see them right away."
The refueling crew was busy elsewhere at the time. Marina workers Ray Moats and Gavin Eldrige sprung into action, shutting off the fuel.
Moats and Eldrige then manned the marina's newly built fire boat to help combat the blaze.
"If this fire boat had not been here, I believe this dock could be in danger of becoming embroiled in this whole thing," Tuggle said.
The Dekalb County Fire Department and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency soon joined the fight. According to Tuggle, it took crews about two hours to put out the fire.
Nobody was seriously hurt, but the dock and pumps were damaged. The house boat and a nearby pontoon boat were destroyed.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
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