FBI investigators unload equipment to begin examining evidence obtained from the wreckage of the dive boat Conception on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, in Santa Barbara, Calif. A fire raged through the boat carrying recreational scuba divers anchored near an island off the Southern California Coast on Monday, Sept. 2, leaving multiple people dead. (AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa)

The Latest: Officials say crew tried to save people on ship

September 05, 2019 - 6:32 pm

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on the scuba diving boat fire off the coast of California that is presumed to have killed 34 people (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

Investigators say the crew of the dive ship that sank off the Southern California coast made several attempts to save the 34 people who were trapped by fire and died.

All those lost in the Labor Day tragedy were sleeping below deck when fire broke out around 3 a.m. The captain and four crew members above deck survived.

Jennifer Homendy of the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the cause, said all five were interviewed and described the terrifying situation.

One was awakened by a noise and saw flames pouring from the galley area. The fire spread quickly, and one crew member broke a leg jumping to the deck but still tried to get to the 33 passengers and one crew member in a bunk room below. The crew member was driven back by flames.

They also tried to get through windows to help those trapped but couldn't and then abandoned ship. The crew soon returned in a skiff but couldn't find any survivors.


1:54 p.m.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom says a senior environmental scientist who worked on marine conservation for the state and her husband were on the scuba diving boat that went up in flames off the coast.

Newsom said in a statement Thursday that Adrian Dahood-Fritz worked for the state's Ocean Protection Council leading efforts to manage a network of marine protected areas.

He says she took the trip with her husband, Andrew Fritz, and they are presumed dead.

Newsom says he joins with the couple's family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time.

He says he is grateful to first responders and based on the findings of the investigation California will take steps to prevent future boat fires.


11 a.m.

U.S. authorities are investigating potential ignition sources of a deadly fire on a scuba diving boat, including electronics aboard the vessel.

Jennifer Homendy, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, said Thursday that investigators know photography equipment, batteries and other electronics were stored and plugged in on the Conception.

She said officials are not ruling out any possibilities as they probe what caused the blaze.

Homendy also said she inspected a vessel similar to the Conception and was concerned about the accessibility of its escape hatch.

The Conception had been in full compliance with Coast Guard regulations.


10:04 p.m.

The dozens of people who perished as flames engulfed and sank a dive boat off Southern California included high schoolers, a hairdresser, a marine biologist, a movie special effects designer and a family of five.

But a common love of scuba diving brought them to the Channel Islands for a Labor Day holiday.

Authorities say 34 people were likely trapped below decks of the Conception Monday. Divers have recovered all but one body.

Five crew members, including the captain, managed to escape.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating. The NTSB's Jennifer Homendy says the captain, boat owner and others have been interviewed. She says survivors received drug tests and four got alcohol tests that were negative.

The Coast Guard says the boat wasn't required to have fire sprinklers.

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