SEVERE WX : Wind Advisory - Winter Weather Advisory - Winter Storm Warning View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Cause of California diving boat fire remains unknown

Investigators have not determined the cause of the fire aboard the California dive boat that sank last week, a law enforcement official familiar with the inv...

Posted: Sep 10, 2019 3:29 AM
Updated: Sep 10, 2019 3:33 AM

Investigators have not determined the cause of the fire aboard the California dive boat that sank last week, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said, noting the boat has not even been brought to the surface.

The Conception sank off the Southern California coast on Labor Day following a fire that claimed the lives of 34 passengers.

The official noted that any reporting about the cause would be speculative. Weather conditions have prevented efforts to surface the boat. Authorities believe conditions may be favorable to bring the ship above water Wednesday.

The official said authorities are reviewing records obtained during the execution of search warrants in order to determine the Conception's safety record and practices of the operating company.

The Coast Guard Investigative Service on Sunday and Monday served search warrants on Truth Aquatics, the owner of the diving boat that was swallowed up by flames, Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Eric Raney told CNN on Sunday.

Federal agents also searched the company's boats the Vision and the Truth, officials said.

"This is all just part of the ongoing investigation," Raney said. "The Coast Guard was assisted by ATF, which is investigating the fire and the FBI, which has expertise in criminal investigations."

High winds and strong currents delayed the search and rescue on Monday.

"Reports that the remaining body not recovered is for certain in the boat are inaccurate," Raney said. "We are not sure where that body is. We need to get divers back in the water to search parts of the boat that were unstable during prior searches."

Of the 39 people who were aboard the 75-foot dive boat Conception that weekend, only five crew members were found alive. The others, who were in the lower sleeping deck, likely got trapped when the fire blocked their escape, authorities have said.

Preliminary indications are that the victims' cause of death was smoke inhalation and that the passengers died "prior to being burned," Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Friday.

Thirty-three bodies have been recovered and one remains missing, the sheriff's office said.

Investigation of similar boat led to safety concerns

After investigating a similar boat owned by the same company, National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) board member Jennifer Homendy told CNN she has several safety concerns, including whether there is proper equipment for detecting and suppressing fire.

"We're looking into the adequacy of smoke detectors and were there enough fire extinguishers," Homendy said.

The escape hatch in the lower bunk level on the Vision -- the similar boat -- was small and difficult to see, access and maneuver, she said.

The NTSB will be evaluating whether there were "issues with evacuation or responses" or "escape survival factors," Homendy said. She said officials had already interviewed the owner-operator of the dive boat, but didn't offer any further details.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 139355

Reported Deaths: 1904
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah29403466
Washington19370183
Marion16840250
Clackamas12186142
Lane8850113
Jackson723497
Umatilla702874
Deschutes528341
Yamhill333851
Linn322950
Malheur321755
Polk259940
Klamath256848
Josephine186836
Benton184614
Douglas180547
Jefferson173925
Union115817
Wasco112723
Columbia108218
Lincoln104417
Coos102116
Hood River99423
Morrow96810
Clatsop7185
Crook66914
Baker5835
Tillamook3732
Curry3275
Lake2605
Grant2171
Harney1906
Wallowa1003
Gilliam531
Sherman480
Wheeler201
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3235045

Reported Deaths: 38268
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles108548815614
San Bernardino2685421719
Riverside2668492970
Orange2391752768
San Diego2300662421
Santa Clara991741278
Kern91119591
Fresno863361084
Sacramento846531194
Alameda71298906
Ventura67066546
San Joaquin60545844
Contra Costa55593492
Stanislaus49500803
Tulare43574542
Monterey38434261
San Mateo34510356
San Francisco30734293
Santa Barbara27149267
Solano27141118
Imperial25745510
Merced25743332
Sonoma25160251
Kings20223161
Placer18034188
San Luis Obispo17151161
Madera14068175
Santa Cruz13088136
Marin12067166
Yolo11276146
Shasta10144132
Butte9865136
El Dorado824566
Sutter812984
Napa807050
Lassen530916
San Benito523851
Yuba522730
Tehama456446
Tuolumne351241
Nevada339473
Mendocino332236
Amador307433
Lake272932
Humboldt265227
Glenn202822
Colusa19079
Calaveras171323
Siskiyou150413
Mono11454
Inyo105329
Del Norte8783
Plumas6185
Modoc3924
Mariposa3575
Trinity3065
Sierra950
Alpine740
Unassigned00
Medford
Partly Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 32°
Brookings
Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 35°
Medford
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 28° Lo: 5°
Feels Like: 32°
Medford
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 32°
Klamath Falls
Mostly Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: 18°
Rain and snow continue for Wednesday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events