Boat Fire Victims Had Such a Small Escape Hatch, Says Official

Investigation is underway and it may take quite some time to reveal the cause of the tragic blaze — and whether, in the aftermath, there were acts of 'cowardice or even a crime'

The lead investigator in the Conception boat fire near Santa Cruz, California, expressed concern about the ability of passengers to escape in an emergency after she and her team toured a similar vessel in Santa Barbara Harbor on Wednesday, The Los Angeles Times reported.

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National Transportation and Safety Board member Jennifer Homendy told The Times she was “taken aback” by the size of the emergency hatch when she toured the Vision.

Investigators right now are trying to retrieve the 34th and final victim of a disastrous fire aboard the diving boat Conception earlier this week.

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They also say it could take up to two years to determine the cause of the fire, Fox News reported on Thursday morning.

When a portion of the mayday call from the Conception was released, a person could be heard on the recording saying, “I can’t breathe,” as CNN and other outlets reported these past few days.

Related: Dive Boat Enveloped by Flames, People Trapped Below

The dispatcher also asked the person on the line the following questions:

  • “Can you get back on board and unlock the boat?”
  • “There’s no escape hatch for any of the people on board?”
  • “You don’t have any firefighter gear at all? No fire extinguishers or anything?”

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The nation has been gripped all week by this tragedy.

“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this terrible tragedy,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at a press conference on Monday.

Please see the tweets below for more on this horrendous tragedy.

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