The Latest: Surviving crew from boat fire talk to police –

Police have interviewed the five crew members who survived a boat fire off the Southern California coast.

The Coast Guard says 39 people were aboard the Conception, a dive ship on a three-day scuba diving excursion to the Channel Islands. There was a six-member crew and 33 passengers when the fire broke out about 3 a.m. Monday and quickly engulfed the boat.

Five crew members survived after jumping overboard and making it to a nearby boat. It’s unclear what efforts they made to help the passengers.

Eight bodies have been found and 26 people missing.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown says police have interviewed the men but didn’t disclose what they said. No cause for the fire has been identified and Brown says at this stage there’s no reason to believe it involved a criminal act.


4:20 p.m.

Authorities say four more victims of a catastrophic dive boat fire have been located on the ocean floor off Southern California, bringing the known death toll to eight.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown says the additional victims were found Monday close to the sunken vessel but the boat remains unstable and it’s uncertain when those remains will be recovered.

Four unidentified bodies recovered earlier Monday are those of two men and two women.

Coast Guard Capt. Monica Rochester says the search for more than two dozen other missing persons will go on into Tuesday morning but that but people should be prepared for “the worst outcome.”



A scuba diver who has frequently gone on expeditions on the boat where a deadly fire broke out Monday says it and others in its operator’s fleet are among the safest and best maintained he’s seen.

Four people died and 29 are missing after flames erupted on the Conception, which later sank anchored just off Santa Cruz Island. Five crew members who were on the boat’s top deck managed to escape.

Dave Reid, who runs an underwater camera business with his wife, said the boat’s operator, Truth Aquatics, has immaculate boats and its crew is top notch.

But Reid, who is familiar with the boat’s configuration, notes all divers sleep on the lowest level.

He says divers are not locked into that level but if a fire erupted above them it would be difficult for any to escape through a narrow stairway.


1:15 p.m.

The boat with 33 passengers aboard that burned while anchored close to shore of one of Southern California’s Channel Islands had no recent safety violations.

The Santa Barbara-based Conception was carrying recreational scuba divers and caught fire early Monday. Five crew members jumped to safety but all 33 passengers were missing. Four bodies were later recovered and the search for others continued Monday afternoon.

Coast Guard records show inspections conducted last February and in August 2018 found no deficiencies. Earlier inspections found some safety violations related to fire safety.

A 2016 inspection resulted in owners replacing the heat detector in the galley and one in 2014 cited a leaky fire hose.

Records show all safety violations from the last five years were quickly addressed by the boat’s owners.


11 a.m.

The Coast Guard says four bodies have been recovered near a dive boat that caught fire off the California coast with dozens of people aboard.

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll says the bodies recovered Monday morning had injuries consistent with drowning.

Searchers are continuing to look for 29 other people who were aboard the vessel Conception, which burned while anchored off Santa Cruz Island.

Five crew members were awake when the fire broke out and were able to jump into the water. They were rescued by a passing pleasure craft.

Authorities have given fluctuating information about the number of people aboard the vessel. The Coast Guard now says a sixth crewmember who was on the manifest was actually not aboard.



LOS ANGELES (AP) — Officials say some people are dead and 34 are missing after a fire aboard a commercial scuba diving vessel off the Southern California Coast.

The Daily Beast quoted Capt. Brian McGrath of the Ventura County Fire Department as saying that there were deaths. But McGrath said he could not give a number.

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll of the U.S. Coast Guard says five crewmembers sleeping on the 75-foot (20-meter) boat’s top deck were rescued early Monday morning near Santa Cruz Island. The island is about 90 miles (140 kilometers) from Los Angeles. One of the crew suffered minor injuries.

Kroll says 34 passengers who were sleeping below deck have not been accounted for.

The Coast Guard has helicopters, small boats and a patrol cutter in the area for a search-and-rescue operation.


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