MONROE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Locals and tourists alike are mourning after an explosion at Sunset Marina on Dale Hollow Lake sent two men to the hospital and burned down the marina’s store and office.
Witnesses said the fire started after a houseboat ran into a gas tank on the dock around 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 10, causing an explosion.
Indianapolis filmmaker Aaron Milbourn was on vacation with his family, getting ready to take one last boat ride before going home, when they spotted the commotion.
“We just started hearing yelling and screaming and people running,” Milbourn recalled.
Milbourn and his family quickly noticed the large plume of smoke coming from the marina. The filmmaker didn’t bring any of his professional cameras with him, so he pulled out his cell phone and began recording the flames.
“There was a picture that I had where I was, like, ‘There’s no way that they’re going to save any of this marina. It’s all going down,'” Milbourn said.
Milbourn captured a giant plume of smoke rolling out from the marina as the dock, store, and office burned in the blaze. His video shows first responders working to put the fire out.
Milbourn shoots a lot of video for his job, but the video of the burning marina is personal. He and his family visit Dale Hollow Lake and Sunset Marina every year.
“We take so many pictures on the dock there,” Milbourn said. “They’ve got a little Mary Lou boat [my kids] get on that’s like a couple quarters, and they ride it. It’s all gone. I think of all the memories that are tied to this area for us, and a lot of those are just up in flames.”
The marina’s general manager was airlifted to Vanderbilt with second-degree burns, and the marina’s owner was treated for smoke inhalation, according to officials.
Milbourn credited the first responders for saving the marina’s restaurant. However, the store, office, and parts of the dock were destroyed.
The filmmaker believes the recovery process will take a while, and it could have a lasting impact on the community.
“This place means a lot to a lot of people, and you could tell when it happened, the lake stopped,” Milbourn said. “All the boats came, nobody was tubing, nobody was ripping and running on jet skis, you could tell everybody was mourning and watching it unfold.”
In a social media post, Sunset Marina thanked the first responders, customers, friends, fellow marina owners and citizens who helped put out the fire, brought supplies, and helped in any way.
Sunset Marina wrote, in part, “Thank you for keeping us in your prayers as we figure out a path forward. Thank you for your patience as we restore phones, computers, reservations and other marina services. With God’s guidance, we will be restored. Because of Him and His Son, We are Sunset Strong!!! Thankful from the bottom of our hearts for all of you!”