33 people are dead after dive boat fire in Southern California

Early Monday morning, Conception, a 75-foot dive boat caught fire off the coast of Southern California leaving 33 passengers trapped sleeping inside. Five crew members, including the captain, were working on deck and able to jump to safety.

The victims were sleeping in bunk beds on the lower deck when the fire erupted.
View of bunks on the Conception

As of Wednesday, all 33 bodies have been recovered.

The Conception burst into flames in the middle of the night while anchored 20 yards off of Platts Harbor on the north side of Santa Cruz Island.   

Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach received a mayday call just before 3.30am local time Monday. 

The Conception captain, Jerry Boylan, can be heard telling a Coast Guard dispatcher that all of his passengers are trapped below deck ‘with no escape hatch’. 

‘There’s 33 people on board the vessel on fire. They can’t get off,’ the captain says.  

The Conception burns off the coast of Santa Cruz Island, California. Picture: Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/AFP

The dispatcher responds: ‘Roger. Are they locked inside the boat? Roger. Can you get back on board and unlock the doors so they can get off? Roger. You don’t have any firefighter gear at all, no fire extinguishers or anything?’

Most of the captain’s responses are unintelligible, except for the words: ‘I can’t breathe.’ 

He confirms that all the crew jumped off and the vessel is fully engulfed in flames. After the call was placed, the captain jumped ship as well.

Four of the crew members were taken to the hospital and two had sustained leg injuries. 

The captain remained at the scene working with rescue crews as search efforts are ongoing. 

Rochester said the Conception sank in 64 feet of water as crews worked to extinguish the flames. The bow of the boat is still above water. 

Passengers were trapped in the cabin below deck.

Worldwide Diving Adventures chartered the vessel for a Labor Day weekend diving trip, according to the company’s website. The vessel was expected to return to port Monday evening.

Names of the victims have started to be released. Click on their names for their social media profiles.

People have left flowers at the dock where the Conception is based
Tributes left for victims of the fire
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