UPDATE: 34 Dead in California Dive Boat Fire - all victims recovered.
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DaMuleRules
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 6:29 am    Post subject: UPDATE: 34 Dead in California Dive Boat Fire - all victims recovered.

I did some my first boat dives on the Conception back in day. This is just effin' horrible:

Fatalities reported from fire on Santa Barbara-based diving boat near Santa Cruz Island
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Last edited by DaMuleRules on Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:55 pm; edited 6 times in total
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 6:49 am    Post subject:

Conception Bunk Layout

One of the fears in the back of my head on many of the dive boats is what would happen in an overnight fire. The bunk quarters on them are below deck, and typically with one narrow staircase (often more like a ladder) as an exit.

If a big , fast moving fire breaks out when everyone is sleeping as it appears here, the chances of getting out are very low.
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unleasHell
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 8:21 am    Post subject:

It's still early, but the fact that the crew has been rescued and the 34 passengers are "missing", does not seem this is going to have a happy ending...
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 8:29 am    Post subject:

The sad irony of dying by fire with water all around you.
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DaMuleRules
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 10:19 am    Post subject:

unleasHell wrote:
It's still early, but the fact that the crew has been rescued and the 34 passengers are "missing", does not seem this is going to have a happy ending...


I don't want to speculate too much, but I am thinking an explosion followed immediately by a large fire is likely the course of events. The crew members were awake and on an upper deck, probably in the wheelhouse which is at the top and toward the bow. They would be away from an engine room catastrophe. The people in the bunk room (photo) would be on the same dack as the engine room and right next to it. As you can see from the photo, a mass exodus from that area with a large fire involved would be an absolute nightmare to navigate.

Still stunned as a member of the SoCal dive community. It's a tight knit group and while I haven't been as active in it as I used to be, Lots of friends are in shock this morning.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 10:35 am    Post subject:

Four Bodies Recovered
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 11:28 am    Post subject:

Update: five crew members abandoned ship when the fire broke out

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Five crew members sleeping on the top deck of the 75-foot (20-meter) commercial scuba diving vessel were rescued, according to Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll of the U.S. Coast Guard. But he said 34 passengers who were sleeping below deck have not been accounted for.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 11:38 am    Post subject:

Distress Call Audio

Not sure why the CG is asking about the passengers being "locked in" as there is no door to the bunk room, just an open stairway. There is an escape hatch at the back of the bunk room, which would be right by the engine room. It is possible that the escape hatch was "blocked" and not locked.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 1:23 pm    Post subject:

Conception just before she sank

For some perspective on just how extensive the damage was, there was a galley deck and then a bridge above that one that are completely gone. Area where the fire burned through the large gaping holes in the midship/bow area are where the bunk room would have been.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 3:03 pm    Post subject:

leor_77 wrote:
The sad irony of dying by fire with water all around you.


The boat was next to the island....sounds like everyone asleep below deck was trapped with no way out.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 3:34 pm    Post subject:

As I have mentioned this one hits close to home to me and I have been crossing my fingers and checking in with friends in the dive community to make sure no one I know was involved and so far so good.

However this report was a gut punch to me that has left me in tears:

LA Times

Shirley Hansen and her husband, Bob, were jarred awake about 3:30 a.m. by the sound of pounding on the side of their 60-foot fishing boat.

The crew had escaped the Conception by jumping into the ocean, retrieving a dinghy and paddling 200 yards to the Hansens’ boat, the Grape Escape, Shirley Hansen said in an interview.

The crew was distraught, some wearing only underwear, she said. One man told the Hansens that his girlfriend was still below deck on the Conception. Another man cried, describing how they had celebrated three passengers’ birthdays hours earlier, including that of a 17-year-old girl who was on the diving trip with her parents.


My own daughter is just a year older and she was certified a little over 5 years ago. And while she has done a dive at Avalon, all of our dive trips have been abroad, and we have frequently discussed finally doing a live aboard trip here at home so that she could get the true kelp dive experience. My heart sinks at the thought of what this poor family and the other victims must have experienced.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 3:54 pm    Post subject:

DaMuleRules wrote:
Conception Bunk Layout

One of the fears in the back of my head on many of the dive boats is what would happen in an overnight fire. The bunk quarters on them are below deck, and typically with one narrow staircase (often more like a ladder) as an exit.

If a big , fast moving fire breaks out when everyone is sleeping as it appears here, the chances of getting out are very low.
'

Ugh when I was a kid I stayed on one of these types of boats on a trip to Catalina. The sleeping era as I remember it was just like that layout. Super claustrophic and tight.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:02 pm    Post subject:

4 More Bodies Located

The bodies of four additional victims have been located on the ocean floor in close proximity to the vessel, said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown.

Four other victims who had been previously recovered were identified as two adult males and two adult females, Brown added.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:29 pm    Post subject:

DaMuleRules wrote:
4 More Bodies Located

The bodies of four additional victims have been located on the ocean floor in close proximity to the vessel, said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown.

Four other victims who had been previously recovered were identified as two adult males and two adult females, Brown added.


Just heard word through the network of dive buddies that a mutual friend is part of the team working the wreck site. At least as of a little while ago, they are not searching the interior of the boat itself due to concerns about the stability of wreck, which has sunk mostly submerged, but has not actually settled on the bottom. Concerns are that tidal movement may cause the craft to shift and possibly break apart.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:35 pm    Post subject:

They are reporting that one of the missing is a crew member. The ship has passed inspections and had upgraded their fire suppression system in the last couple of years so spreading of the fire must have been very quick, hopefully any deaths were as well. I have gone out to the islands overnight many times on fishing boats with similar sleeping quarters but never felt concerned about fire.

It has been one year since that horrific boat crash on the Colorado near Havasu took the lives of two young ladies from Venture who were my daughter’s friends from school. They never recovered one body, lets hope that they recover all this time.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:47 pm    Post subject:

Another image of boat layout

This is a photo of the Conception's galley. The area under the counter in the bottom center is the opening of the escape hatch from the lower bunk area. This is identical in layout to the dive boat I dove on at least twice a month for almost 10 years. The stairway to the bunk room is under the the TV in the upper right. The exit door from the galley itself would where the photographer would be standing, or through the windows which do slide open. I am very familiar with this layout because it is identical to the boat (built by the same shipbuilder) that I frequented for 10 years and has now become a fishing vessel in San Diego.

One can see how if the galley was engulfed in flames, escape from either the staircase or the escape hatch would be extremely difficult.

The bridge/crew quarters is above the gentleman in the background.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 5:18 pm    Post subject:

What caused the fire/explosion?
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 5:40 pm    Post subject:

Ted wrote:
What caused the fire/explosion?


Not known at this point and probably won't be for quite awhile unless one of the surviving crewman knows specifically what happened, which is unlikely since the fire seems to have caught them by surprise and was fully involved before they could react.

The galley equipment is reportedly all electrical, not propane as some thought. The boat has a built in barbecue on the aft dive deck that is propane fueled, but apparently the system is safer than even typical home BBQ because of strict maritime safety requirements. The boat (as is the norm these days) is set up for Nitrox as well as compressed air diving. Which means that there would be cylinders of pure oxygen on board mix the gasses. While not an accelerant, the ability of a fire to "breath" will greatly increase its ability to generate heat (think blowing on a camp fire to increase the flame), but oxygen would not be a cause.

It would seem that there had to be a series of events that would lead to such a catastrophic and fast moving fire.

Fires on commercial dive and fishing boats are extremely rare because extensive efforts are made to prevent them in the first place since fire is absolutely the biggest fear on an open water vessel due to the closed quarters etc.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 6:08 pm    Post subject:

venturalakersfan wrote:
They are reporting that one of the missing is a crew member. The ship has passed inspections and had upgraded their fire suppression system in the last couple of years so spreading of the fire must have been very quick, hopefully any deaths were as well. I have gone out to the islands overnight many times on fishing boats with similar sleeping quarters but never felt concerned about fire.

It has been one year since that horrific boat crash on the Colorado near Havasu took the lives of two young ladies from Venture who were my daughter’s friends from school. They never recovered one body, lets hope that they recover all this time.


It sounds like the missing crew member may be the girlfriend of a crew member who was sleeping in a crew berth in the bunk room.
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In 24 frames


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 5:50 am    Post subject:

They have discovered 17 more victims. I have heard from the guy who heads the group of divers I have been diving with for the last 20+ years and is the lead investigator of diving accidents for LA County that at least one of the victims is from our group, though he won't say who until the list of victims is released publicly. Not sure if it is anyone I know.
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In 24 frames


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 11:52 am    Post subject:

DaMuleRules wrote:
They have discovered 17 more victims. I have heard from the guy who heads the group of divers I have been diving with for the last 20+ years and is the lead investigator of diving accidents for LA County that at least one of the victims is from our group, though he won't say who until the list of victims is released publicly. Not sure if it is anyone I know.


Dam hope your buddies are ok. Great information, think your spot on with how narrow and tight below deck gets especially with a blazing fire maybe some past of Carbon dioxide poisoning vs burning. Honestly awful to think about
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 5:36 pm    Post subject:

DaMuleRules wrote:
They have discovered 17 more victims. I have heard from the guy who heads the group of divers I have been diving with for the last 20+ years and is the lead investigator of diving accidents for LA County that at least one of the victims is from our group, though he won't say who until the list of victims is released publicly. Not sure if it is anyone I know.


wow, I hate to hear that....sure you have been racking your brain with names and faces since it happened checking people off. I am hesitant to say this because outside of a few media reports, I do not know the in depth story, but I saw an older man and woman being interviewed today on television (I think it said he was the owner?), and my gut was skeptical of his statements for some reason. I can't pinpoint what was bothering me, and maybe the guy was still in some form of shock, but I will be interested to see what is learned in the investigation.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 5:42 pm    Post subject:

DaMuleRules wrote:
They have discovered 17 more victims. I have heard from the guy who heads the group of divers I have been diving with for the last 20+ years and is the lead investigator of diving accidents for LA County that at least one of the victims is from our group, though he won't say who until the list of victims is released publicly. Not sure if it is anyone I know.


wow, I hate to hear that....sure you have been racking your brain with names and faces since it happened checking people off. I am hesitant to say this because outside of a few media reports, I do not know the in depth story, but I saw an older man and woman being interviewed today on television (I think it said he was the owner?), and my gut was skeptical of his statements for some reason. I can't pinpoint what was bothering me, and maybe the guy was still in some form of shock, but I will be interested to see what is learned in the investigation.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 5:54 pm    Post subject:

KEYT interviewed a fellow boat owner who speculated that the fire could have been caused by a lithium battery from a cellphone or camera. He said that the owners of the Conquer have been trend setters in that industry locally and that he expects them to lead the way to prevent this from happening again. I’m curious if they will ever find the cause of the fire.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 6:09 pm    Post subject:

venturalakersfan wrote:
KEYT interviewed a fellow boat owner who speculated that the fire could have been caused by a lithium battery from a cellphone or camera. He said that the owners of the Conquer have been trend setters in that industry locally and that he expects them to lead the way to prevent this from happening again. I’m curious if they will ever find the cause of the fire.


Yes, lithium battery failure is being widely discussed in the community. On dive boats of that size, it is normal to have as many as a couple of dozen camera systems on board and the standard procedure is take over a table in the galley for charging stations - the one right by the door that goes to the stern dive deck. It is also to common for there to be dive parkas (even in the summer, people throw them on after coming out of the cold water to warm up) laying on the benches or hanging by the galley door.

So the popular theory that computes with what must have been a rapid fire that engulfed the galley is that there was a lithium battery failure resulting in what would be a very hot and sparking fire. If it set off another battery and/or one of the parkas which are synthetic fibers that burn quickly.

A galley fire on a boat of this layout in the middle of the night is a perfect storm. As I think I said earlier, the staircase and the escape hatch both lead to the galley. And the only way out of the galley other than some windows is through the doors by the table where the cameras are - and thus the origin of the fire.

And yes, the people that own and run three boats in Truth Aquatics (Truth Conception and Vision) are pretty much the pioneers of the type of live aboard diving that is now the common throughout California diving. Everyone anticipates some changes will come from this for the better.
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You thought God was an architect, now you know
He’s something like a pipe bomb ready to blow
And everything you built that’s all for show
goes up in flames
In 24 frames


Jason Isbell

Man, do those lyrics resonate right now
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