Burning in the water! Imagine how much it could be terrible. California diving boat fire left 25 dead and nine missings. The Conception was transporting 33 passengers on a three-day scuba trip, and the five crew who escaped in an inflatable boat asked help from a boat anchored nearby.
The 75ft Conception boat was hosting a £550-a-head diving trip for the US Labour Day weekend. Truth Aquatics has been operating since 1974, specializing in diving trips off the California coast. At around 3.15am on Monday, September 2, flames came out and the vessel caught fire.
Five team members who were up on the top deck dived into the water and escaped from the central cabin, including the ship’s captain who hurt a broken leg.
Emergency workers hurried to the scene with rescue boats and a helicopter, nonetheless, they were incapable to board the vessel due to the power of the fire.
That boat’s owners, Bob and Shirley Hansen, explained The New York Times they were risen by the scared crew members pounding on the side of their fishing vessel. “When we looked out, the other boat was totally engulfed in flames, from stem to stern,” Hansen stated. “I could see the fire coming through holes on the side of the boat. There were these explosions every few beats. You can’t prepare yourself for that. It was horrendous.”
A recorded distress call to the Coast Guard shows the passengers were caught in the under-deck sleeping areas. Dave Reid, who controls an underwater camera manufacturing business, also tells The Associated Press that the Conception’s owners were greatly safety-conscious and among the fittest outfits in the area.
Reid continued he and his wife have traveled on the Conception and two other Truth Aquatics boats and would do so repeatedly, but the sleeping areas are on the lowest deck, isolated from the one exit by a narrow stairway.
However, if the fire was moving quickly, they could have easily been trapped below deck, he speculated, and “if there was an eruption in the motor area that could have gone right into the sleeping area.”
It’s not obvious how the blaze began. Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said that the first emergency call did not refer to an explosion.
Nearby civilian boats first entered the scene to help relieve people after hearing mayday calls.
Various rescue companies have involved the process to aid people in “trouble,” Coast Guard officials stated. But it was a Good Samaritan pleasure craft called Grape Escape that helped evacuate the five crew members.
First, in the day, Rochester announced surviving crew members were “already awake and on the bridge, and they jumped off” when the fire started. Other passengers are guessed to have been below deck when the blazes broke out.
Relatives and friends of the victims started coming at Coast Guard Station Channel Islands Harbor hours after the fire had damaged the boat. One of the first to arrive was James Coles, who tells his 58-year-old brother had worked as a chef on the boat for near a year.
“I haven’t been able to get ahold of his cell phone or nothing, you know,” Coles stated. “I’m very concerned and I hope the best for everybody there.
“We can all understand his fears and worries. He doesn’t know if his brother is alive or dead and where he is at all
Brown said that of the four bodies recovered as of Monday morning, two are adult males and two are adult females. “The four victims that we have recovered as of now will need to be identified through DNA and that may take some time,” he added.
The Conception finally sank about 20 yards offshore in 64 feet of water, as to a Coast Guard statement says.
Rochester said the vessel was in “full compliance.
In an interview with Los Angeles TV station, KTLA Mark Barney said two of the crew members had suffered minor leg injuries.
He said that rescue agencies were searching for dozens of passengers from the ship as well as a missing crew member, using both aircraft and surface ships, but that the effort was hampered by dense early morning fog.
“One big question here going forward will be, what exactly was going on in the ship if the crew was able to get off… What were the circumstances around that?” NPR’s Kirk Siegler told. “Could they not get under to start rescuing people, was it just too hot? We just don’t know at this time.”
The sheriff said that there is an investigation underway to decide if there was any criminal activity involved — though he said: “We have no reason to suspect that there was at this point.”
“We are working deliberately with the vessel owner/operator, who is with us at the time working on a plan to conduct further assistance for his vessel,” she replied.
As the Hurricane Dorian soon arrives in the US and this fact frightened people, the California diving boat fire has caused great sadness for the victims’ families. In addition, the missing has not yet been found.