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California boat fire: What we know about the Conception and its tragic end

Conception, the boat that caught fire
The charter boat Conception was destroyed in a fire early Monday off Santa Cruz Island.
(Truth Aquatics)

Here is what we know about the Conception, the charter boat that was destroyed in a fire Monday morning that left 34 people missing:

--The 75-foot boat was regularly used for diving charters around the Channel Islands.

--The boat is owned by Truth Aquatics, a major name in the world of charters that owns several vessels. The company is owned by Glen Fritzler. According to California Diving News , Fritzler built the Conception in 1981. It was on the boat that he met his future wife.

A commercial diving boat caught fire near the shoreline of Santa Cruz Island, Calif., early Monday. Many aboard the boat were believed to be sleeping below deck when the fire broke out in the pre-dawn hours.
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--The boat’s sleeping capacity: 46 people maximum, 13 double bunks, 20 single bunks.

Fire on boat off Santa Cruz Island
A firefighter watches the Conception engulfed in flames Monday morning off Southern California’s Santa Cruz Island.
(Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

--In 2005, a man stole the Conception from Santa Barbara Harbor and crashed it into several other boats.

--The Conception left Saturday for a Labor Day diving expedition with dozens aboard and was set to return to the harbor Monday at 5 p.m. The tour was set to include diving, nature lectures and gourmet meals.

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Route of the Conception
Route of the Conception. Sources: MarineTraffic, OpenStreetMap
(Los Angeles Times)

--The boat was anchored off Santa Cruz Island when the U.S. Coast Guard received a mayday call around 3:30 a.m. Authorities found the Conception fully engulfed. Those missing were believed to be sleeping below. The Coast Guard said the five crew members who survived were awake when the fire hit and were able to escape.

--The charter was run by Worldwide Diving Adventures.

Conception, the boat that caught fire
Conception, the boat that caught fire off Santa Cruz Island.
(Truth Aquatics)

--The boat eventually sank Monday morning, according to the Coast Guard.

--Authorities said they don’t know the cause of the fire.

--The Coast Guard was searching for survivors who might have swum to the island.


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