by: Stephanie Langston
Marina co-owner Tom Allen recounts the harrowing turn of events as employees clean up the aftermath of the fire.
As Tom explained, “I heard a loud explosion, a loud boom, and I turned 180 degrees around and saw the largest fireball I’ve ever seen.”
Fire destroys Sunset Marina store and office on Dale Hollow Lake, a place that means a lot to many people
A houseboat hit the fuel dock, causing a fireball and a plume of black smoke to reach some 50 feet above the roof of the marina.
Because our marina restaurant and store were full of people, I was expecting fatalities and possibly bodies in the water. It’s a miracle no one was killed,” Allen said.
Brad Richardson suffered second-degree burns while being transported to the hospital for smoke inhalation.
The shirt was burned off when I got there, but he had put himself out when I arrived. He had put out the fire by rolling on the deck and had sound enough mind to go over and shut off the emergency shut off button that shut off the floor fuel before the explosion. In the absence of that, the fire, explosion, and probably the deaths would have been much worse,” Allen said.
Although Allen admits it makes him emotional, he said the disaster has humbled him.
“I never would have thought anyone would have survived an explosion that large, and to be standing here and talking about what could have been instead of attending funerals, instead of having people that are injured for life, and don’t get me wrong, Brad has some pretty severe burns, but he’s in great spirits and he wants to be back at work. He will be back at work. He’s been with us almost from the beginning 30 years ago; he’s part of the family.” Allen said as his voice began to break.
As much of Allen and Richardson’s business is buried in ashes, they are counting their blessings on Wednesday.
“God was watching over us all. It was amazing how well they were able to put it out, and it is even more astounding that no one was worse off. Because our community firefighters made a goal-line stand right at the 50 yard line in the face of such a large and hot fire, Allen said, it is a testament to them.
He said they are working to begin fuel operations and restore power to the restaurant, which was spared due to the heroic efforts of firefighters. He said a decision will be made next week regarding whether the restaurant will reopen.
“I think the most important thing we need right now is continued prayer. God is watching over us. Your prayers are greatly appreciated,” Allen said. In the meantime, we just need prayers to get through the days and weeks ahead until we can develop a formal plan for rebuilding. We’ve been well taken care of.”
A customer set up a GoFundMe account to help Richardson as he recovers. Allen said that the generosity of the community has been overwhelming.
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