LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The National Transportation Safety Board announced Monday it will hold a special board meeting next month to discuss the investigation into the tragic dive boat fire which occurred nearly one year ago off the coast of Santa Cruz Island, killing 34 people.
The NTSB board will convene Oct. 20, where its five members will reveal the final report of its investigation into the fire and vote on the “findings, probable cause and recommendations as well as any changes to the draft final report.”
In the early morning hours of Sept. 2, 2019, a blaze broke out aboard the 75-foot charter boat “Conception” as it was anchored about 20 yards of Santa Cruz Island and 22 miles southwest of Santa Barbara.
A total of 39 people were aboard, included six crew members and 33 passengers. Five crew members survived. The sixth crew member and all 33 passengers perished.
According to a preliminary report from the NTSB released about 10 days after the fire, all six crew members aboard the boat were asleep when the blaze broke out. Five of them were sleeping in the wheelhouse on the uppermost sun deck, and the sixth was asleep below in the lower hull’s bunkroom with the passengers. The NTSB said the five crew members in the wheelhouse jumped overboard and survived. The sixth crew member and the passengers asleep below in their bunks were trapped and died.
In its preliminary report, the NTSB did not indicate a possible cause for the blaze.
In response to the deadly fire, the U.S. Coast Guard issued new emergency safety requirements for boaters. They include recommending that boaters limit the unsupervised charging of lithium-ion batteries and the use of power strips and extension cords.
The Coast Guard, FBI, ATF and U.S. Attorney’s Office are conducting a criminal investigation into the blaze. The Coast Guard has also convened a formal Marine Board of Investigation to determine the cause of the fire.
The boat was owned by Santa Barbara-based Truth Aquatics.
Conception was built in Long Beach and first launched in 1981. Conception had a maximum capacity of 46 people. The charter was booked by a group called Worldwide Diving Adventures. Truth Aquatics had been running charters since 1974. It suspended operations about a month after the fire.