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Response on lake can be difficult
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Forsyth County News

The fire that destroyed a house boat over the weekend is a reminder of the challenges of emergency response on Lake Lanier.

Forsyth County Fire Capt. Jason Shivers said the department does not have a boat equipped for fighting fires, though it does have a pontoon boat used for rescue and recovery.

“This was one of those rare occurrences where this fire occurred on this island and there was nothing we could do until they were brought to shore,” Shivers said.

He said a man was burned Sunday afternoon while evacuating eight others from the 72-foot-long craft, which was beached on an unnamed island.

Responders began treating him on the park shore.

“All the occupants were ferried back to shore by other boaters in the area, the injured included,” Shivers said.

Crews from both Forsyth and Hall counties were initially directed to the island, which was later determined to be near Long Hollow Park on the Forsyth side. (click for map)

Such jurisdictional confusion is not uncommon during incidents on the massive lake that separates the two counties.

Jane Browder saw Sunday's fire, which raised concerns about past incidents she has seen on the lake.

"I've been out there and I've seen accidents happen and usually we're calling on our radios and there's nobody," she said. "Nobody's on the lake and that's a major concern."

She recalled seeing a boat capsize last summer, leaving four people stranded in the water.

"We kept calling on the radio for (the state Department of Natural Resources) or any county that had jurisdiction and that was an area where you had crossover between Forsyth and Hall County," she said.

She said they eventually called a private marina, which houses a boat towing company, to see if it could find anyone to help.

"They also have auxiliary Coast Guard out here, but nobody was on the lake," she said. "We got the people out and nobody was hurt."