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A holiday diving trip off the coast of Southern California turned into a nightmare early Monday when fire broke out aboard a boat just 20 yards from shore, killing up to 34 people trapped below deck, officials said.

As the 79-foot Conception’s captain and four colleagues jumped overboard off Santa Cruz Island near Santa Barbara, one other crew member and 33 passengers were sleeping below and had no way to escape, authorities said.

“Is the vessel fully engulfed now?’’ a US Coast Guard worker asked the captain, Jerry Boylan, in a distress call over the area’s emergency radio channel at 3:14 a.m.
“Roger. And there’s no escape hatch for any of the people on board,’’ the captain replied.

The operator asked, “Are they locked inside the boat? . . . Can you get back on board and unlock the doors so they can get off? . . . You don’t have any firefighter gear at all, no fire extinguishers or anything?”

The captain’s response is unclear, but a Coast Guard official later said the Conception was in “full compliance’’ with safety regulations.
Full Story:
https://nypost.com/2019/09/02/no-escape-in-tragic-santa-cruz-boat-fire/
 
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Satanica

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ghosttruck

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At least 25 people were confirmed dead and nine more remained missing after a boat carrying scuba divers went up in flames while anchored off a Southern California island Monday, officials said.

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search efforts to locate any possible survivors who were aboard the Conception as of 9:40 a.m. local time "pending further developments," Coast Guard Capt. Monica Rochester said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Rescuers were searching earlier in the day for "any survivors or any signs of life" near the vessel located roughly 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles off Santa Cruz Island, Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr Matthew Kroll told "Fox & Friends."

Kroll said when investigators arrived, the boat "was already entirely engulfed with flames," but added five crew members aboard the ship were quickly rescued.

Authorities "continued to search all of yesterday with no signs of life for survivors," he explained.

Kroll described the boat fire as "a tragic story all around."

Rescuers initially recovered four bodies from the water where the ship was anchored.

Rochester explained during Tuesday's press conference that a total of 20 bodies have been recovered, while other four to six bodies that have been spotted by divers but have yet to be retrieved.

In the audio of a distress call made from the vessel it appeared as though those on the vessel were locked inside. However, Rochester said that "there are no locked doors" aboard the Conception. Kroll previously said such information – "where and which doors were hatched and were locked, and which ones were not" – was not immediately clear.
 

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McDanel

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This, fucking this: "The operator asked, “Are they locked inside the boat? . . . Can you get back on board and unlock the doors so they can get off? . . . You don’t have any firefighter gear at all, no fire extinguishers or anything?”

How is it possible they were locked anywhere? Was the crew laying out some lines of coke in the galley? Twenty yards from shore, all divers, they should have been able to swim to shore.
 

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Brillig

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I heard the sleeping quarters were below deck, the very bottom of the vessel. Video showed a long row of bunk beds with a narrow aisle down the middle. They said there was a main entrance and an "escape hatch", but that by the time the fire was noticed, both exits were already in flames.
 

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Satanica

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VENTURA COUNTY COAST — The co-owner of a Santa Cruz-based diving company is missing after a boat she was on caught fire and sank early Monday off the coast of Southern California, killing at least four people and leaving many others missing.

Kristy Finstad — a diving instructor and marine biologist who runs Worldwide Diving Adventures out of Santa Cruz with her husband Dan Chua — was on the Conception, a 75-foot commercial diving vessel, helping to lead a weekend diving trip off the Channel Islands, according to a Facebook post by her brother, Brett Harmeling.

Reached by phone late Monday afternoon, Harmeling said he still hadn’t heard any information about his sister from officials, more than 12 hours after officials said the boat caught fire.
[....]
There were 39 people believed to be on board the boat, with 30 still considered missing as of Monday afternoon, authorities said.

Five crew members jumped off the boat and were evacuated by people on board a nearby boat, Grape Escape, the U.S. Coast Guard said. Two of the crew members had minor injuries, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Mark Barney.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said the bodies of four people have been recovered, but so far could only be identified as two men and two women.

“Rescue and recovery efforts on the scene have located an additional four victims on the ocean floor, in close proximity to the vessel,” Brown added during a news conference Monday afternoon.

He said dive teams were working to recover those bodies, but he wasn’t sure when that would be complete, as the sunken boat is “unstable.”

Worldwide Diving Adventures was chartering the Conception for the Labor Day weekend diving trip, which was advertised on the website as a chance for divers to see colorful sea life up close near the Channel Islands, off the coast of Ventura County in Southern California.

The boat is owned by Santa Barbara-based Truth Aquatics, and departed from Santa Barbara harbor on the morning of Aug. 31, and was scheduled to return from the trip Monday, Brown said.

According to the company’s website and Facebook page, the company was founded in 1972 by Bill Finstad, and was handed off to Kristy Finstad when Bill retired.

Kristy’s husband Dan Chua also runs the business, but according a comment from Harmeling on his Facebook post, Chua is leading another dive trip off of Costa Rica when the fire happened in Southern California.
 

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Alf

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Interested to know how the fire started
I heard some wild speculation concerning that on the radio yesterday. The reporter said something about maybe the cook was awake and had started breakfast, and the deck crew were filling the oxygen tanks, and a spark from the galley set off the oxygen.

There are two huge problems with that guess, though:
First, divers don't normally use 100% oxygen for recreational diving or most commercial diving. They use compressed air, 21% oxygen/79% nitrogen/other gases stuffed into the corners. And if they're professional divers, diving deeply, they may use oxyhelium to avoid nitrogen narcosis.

Second, oxygen is a fierce oxidizer but it is not in and of itself flammable, much less explosive. A spark which would ordinarily glow orange for half a second or so in air would glow incandescently blue but for a much much shorter time in pure oxygen. And the oxygen still would not explode.

--Al
 

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This article has a copy of the specs. https://laist.com/2019/09/02/conception_boat_fire_ventura_county_santa_cruz_island.php

This is the information on the exact ship:


It looks like the sleeping area and the showers were sealed on the bottom level, with one set of stairs available to the sleeping area, one available to the showers. It doesn't seem like there was any way to pass from the sleeping area to the showers without going up one set of stairs to a shared landing, and then going back down to the showers.

News articles that I've read of others that have been on this ship indicate my reading of the blueprint are correct, further explaining that if one wanted to get above deck, they'd have to go on the stairs, through the galley/kitchen area, and out to the deck.

Other articles indicate the kitchen area was dated to the 1980s, and that they were most likely using a propane system, but isn't confirmed. The best assumptions at this time was that something in or near the galley/kitchen caught on fire, and that it spread too quickly for the crew to realize or too quickly for the crew to handle with their knowledge on fire suppression for this vessel.
 

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Satanica

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Federal investigators on Wednesday interviewed the captain and crew of a dive boat that caught fire and sank off the California coast and they also met with families of 34 people killed in one of the state’s worst maritime disasters.

The badly burned bodies of all but one of the victims of the early Monday morning blaze aboard the 75-foot (23-meter) Conception have been recovered, officials said.
[....]
NTSB experts were spending their first full day of the investigation interviewing witnesses and mapping the wreckage of the Conception, which lay upside down some 65 feet (20 meters) below the surface, Homendy said.

The only survivors of the accident, the captain and four crew members, were on deck when the flames erupted shortly after 3 a.m. Pacific time and were able to escape in an inflatable life boat, investigators said.

The 34 victims, including passengers and one crew member, were sleeping below deck. Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown has said the two exits, a stairway to the galley and an escape hatch may have both been blocked by fire.
[....]
 

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Satanica

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Los Angeles (CNN)Crew members of the dive boat that was consumed in flames off the California coast on Labor Day told investigators they tried to rescue the 34 people who were still on board in the inferno, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday.
[....]
One crew member said he awoke to a noise and left his bunk to see flames erupting from the galley area below, Homendy said. The galley was above the sleeping quarters of the guests.

The crew members tried to get down the ladder from the galley to the sleeping area but it was engulfed in flames. They were forced to go down to the main deck from the bridge, and one of them broke their leg getting down, according to Homendy.

A chart showing the layout of the bunk room on the website of the company that owns the Conception, Truth Aquatics, appears to show the main way in and out of the bunk room is through the galley.

After reaching the main deck, the crew members went to the double doors of the galley to try to get to the passengers, but it too was engulfed in flames, NTSB investigators were told.

They then tried and failed to get in through a window in the front of the vessel, Homendy said at the press conference.

"At that point, due to heat, flames and smoke, the crew had to jump from the boat," Homendy said.

Some crew members swam to a skiff on the back of the boat, picked up the other crew and they made their way to a nearby vessel to call 911, Homendy said.

"At that point, they left the vessel and turned back to the Conception in the skiff to try to rescue any survivors," she said.

"What I shared with you is from what we heard from them," Homendy said. "So now it's our job to take that and develop a timeline."

The NTSB will also evaluate whether there were "issues with evacuation or responses" or "escape survival factors," she said.

The NTSB also interviewed the owner operator of the dive boat, Homendy said, without giving any details.

Thirty-three bodies have been recovered, and one remains missing, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office's said.
[....]
"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 was small, difficult to see, access and maneuver, she said.

In trying to pinpoint where the fire started, investigators are looking at the main deck and galley now, Homendy said.

"But we are not closing out any possibilities, from the engine room to the passenger compartment," she said.

"We are looking at the engineering, the wiring," Homendy said. "We are aware that there was a lot of gear on board with the cameras and the crew, cameras, phones, extra batteries. And chargers."
[....]
"The main charging station would be above the bunk beds in the galley," Sheckler said. "It was a little tight to find space to charge."

Still, any theory that the fire started at a charging station is "conjecture," he said.

"The Conception always has been a top notch, well-run operation," Sheckler said.

The Labor Day disaster may well spark changes in regulations of commercial dive boats and related vessels, said retired US Coast Guard Capt. Kyle McAvoy, an expert with Robson Forensic, who specializes in watercraft safety and accidents.

"A lot of regulatory and policy and safety initiatives are driven by tragic events such as this," McAvoy told CNN. "The expression is that a lot of regulations are written in blood."
 

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Turd Fergusen

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California dive boat owners don’t want to pay victims’ families
The owners of the dive boat that caught fire off the coast of Southern California, killing 34 people aboard, say they shouldn’t have to pay a dime to the victims’ families, according to a new report.

Glen and Dana Fritzler have cited an obscure maritime law from 1851, the Limitation of Shipowners’ Liability Act, in arguing that they shouldn’t financially be on the hook for the tragedy,
https://nypost.com/2019/09/06/santa-cruz-dive-boat-owners-dont-want-to-pay-victims-families-court-papers/
 

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myra manes

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Babs

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Satanica

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Federal authorities are conducting a criminal investigation into the fire on a California dive boat that killed 34 people in one of the state’s worst maritime disasters, a law enforcement source said on Monday.

That investigation is proceeding as divers postponed for another day efforts to raise the 75-foot Conception from the ocean floor, citing weather conditions. They hope to find the remains of the final victim inside the charred wreckage of the ship.

“We are conducting a joint investigation. No criminal charges have been filed at this time,” the source told Reuters.

Agents from the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the U.S. Coast Guard and local sheriff’s deputies served search warrants at the offices of the boat’s owner and two other ships belonging to the company.
[....]
Law enforcement officials declined to say what they were seeking during those searches. One of the other ships, the Vision, is said to closely resemble the Conception.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the investigation was focused on possible safety lapses aboard the Conception, including the lack of a night watchman and failure to properly train the crew for such emergencies.

Crew members have told investigators they did not hear smoke alarms before awakening to discover flames erupting from below decks, National Transportation Safety Board member Jennifer Homendy has said.

Coroner’s investigators have used DNA tests to identify the 33 badly burned bodies recovered so far, forgoing formal autopsies in order to speed the return of the remains to families, some of whom traveled from as far away as India following the Labor Day tragedy.

 

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Norcal Skim

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Heard a 'rumor' that the fire started due to too many electronic devices being charged down below and overloading the electrical system.

You would think an electrical fire would still give people a chance to escape though...
 

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BuffettGirl

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Pretty disgusting attitude when all the bodies are not yet recovered and identified, and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
While I totally agree that it comes across ALL WRONG - it's a fairly standard business/legal practice to protect your own business this way in cases of catastrophic events. Despite how the media wants to warp it into something that it's not.
 

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