34 dead in Santa Cruz Island boat fire

Source: Wikimedia Commons

A dive boat off the coast of Southern California caught fire Labor Day weekend, killing 34 people. The victims were mostly passengers as their cramped sleeping arrangements below deck prevented them from escaping the fire, while the crew survived above deck.

While the cause of the fire was first thought to be accidental, search warrants presented by the FBI at the boat’s owner Truth Aquatics’ office implies otherwise. According to ABC News, it is part of the “ongoing investigation” into whether or not any foul play was involved.

Brian Melley, a reporter for the Los Angeles Daily News, points out that the assumption that the caption should go down with the ship could play into the increased police attention. Shifting the blame to the captain because he made it out alive is not practical.

“They will look at the ship’s layout and whether the bunk room below deck was too cramped and had enough exits, review maintenance records, even study photos and videos from people who have been on the boat to look for valuable evidence,” says Melley.

The dive boat, names the Conception, was going for a three day excursion to the Channel Islands. Truth Aquatics’ record with the Coast Guard is clean. In the past, only two minor violations occurred that were quickly fixed.

As for the cause of the fire, the FBI has not shared any further details about their investigation, but it seems to be accidental.

Update: The original headline of this article incorrectly referred to Santa Cruz Island as Santa Cruz the city.