Written by Sam Brower
Over the Labor Day weekend, a fire broke out aboard a dive boat in Santa Barbara around 3:30 a.m. The boat, named Conception, caught fire about 20 yards off the north shore of Santa Cruz island. The cause of the blaze remains under investigation. Five crew members who were getting ready for the day were able to survive the fire, but a sixth crew member who was asleep in the same area as the passengers is believed to be among the dead. The remains of 20 people (11 females and nine males) have been found and 14 more people who are presumed dead remain missing.
Authorities speculate that smoke inhalation was the cause of death for those who were killed in the fire, leaving questions about how the fire started and spread. Investigations are being conducted to answer these questions and learn how to prevent similar tragedies in the future. My brother, Eli Brower, used to work on the dive boat and worked with the people who were on board the day the boat caught on fire. He thinks the fire could have been started by electronics getting overheated from overnight charging. I also got to go on the boat this past summer and see where the passengers would sleep, along with seeing the rest of the boat. It is hard to think that I was walking around on the boat only three months ago, listening to the crew discuss what they do when they go on diving trips and take people out to the islands. Since they have been doing this for a number of years I never thought anything would go wrong on one of the trips, but as the news story shows, anything is possible.