USCalifornia boat fire: 'Devastating. Tragic.' Frantic family and friends await answers
California boat fire missing include family of 5, dive owner
A family of five, students from a Northern California school and an experienced diver are among 34 people missing and presumed dead after a dive boat caught fire off Santa Cruz island.
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LOS ANGELES - In the early morning hours Monday, as news of the devastating fire aboard the diving boat Conception spread, family members and friends of those believed to be on board began racing to sites in Ventura County and the Santa Barbara shores seeking any bit of information about their loved ones.
Investigation to determine if charges filed in boat fire
The captain and crew who leapt from a burning dive boat off Southern California saved themselves as 34 people perished below deck. Whether their escape from the Conception before dawn Monday was the only viable option, an act of cowardice or even a crime has yet to be determined, but the old saw about the captain going down with his ship is more an antiquated notion.
James Kohl rushed to the Coast Guard headquarters in Oxnard, hoping to learn the fate of his brother, Mike, a cook on the Conception, which erupted in flames near the shore of Santa Cruz Island about 3:30 a.m. Pacific time, killing at least eight with more than two dozen passengers missing.
Many aboard the boat were believed to be sleeping below deck when the fire broke out, triggering intense flames that engulfed the 75-foot vessel. Five crew members, who were on the deck at the time, escaped and were rescued by a good Samaritan boat nearby. The Conception sank around 7:20 a.m., the Coast Guard said.
Names of those missing and dead are being withheld pending next-of-kin notifications.
The Conception had departed from Santa Barbara Harbor on Saturday morning and was scheduled to return Monday about 5 p.m. By early afternoon dozens of flower arrangements lined the railing at the harbor's Sea Landing, from where the Conception left.
U.S. Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., who arrived at the harbor along with family members seeking answers, said: "Devastating. Tragic. And we're hoping there could still be some survivors."
Harbor employees said they could not comment on the tragedy and were still waiting to hear from the Coast Guard. Employees were hugging each other as tourists and other people going fishing were boarding a nearby boat.
By about noon, officials had established a family assistance center at Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara and a phone line was opened at (833) 688-5551.
Suzanne Grimmesey, a Santa Barbara County spokeswoman, said numerous family members of passengers were en route and were traveling from out of the area.
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California boat fire: Investigators serve search warrants on Conception owner.
Federal investigators served search warrants Sunday at the company that operated the Conception dive boat, on which 34 people were killed last week in a fire that swept through the vessel while it was anchored off Santa Cruz Island on Labor Day. Agents with the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Coast Guard served the warrants shortly after 8 a.m. at the Santa Barbara headquarters of Truth Aquatics, law enforcement officials said. Investigators were looking for training, safety and maintenance records. The move comes amid an intensifying investigation into the worst maritime disaster in modern California history.
California boat fire: ‘Devastating. Tragic.’ Frantic family and friends await answers
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