Many feared dead after boat bursts into flames off California and more than 30 people rescued

Dozens of people are feared dead after a 75-foot dive boat burst into flames off the coast of California.  

The vessel was anchored near Platts Harbor on the north side of Santa Cruz Island when it caught fire in the middle of the night while passengers were sleeping below deck. 

Five people have been rescued and 34 people are currently missing, according to Santa Barbara County Fire Department PIO Mark Eliason.  

‘They are unaccounted for, but it’s very foggy out there,’ Eliason told CNN

‘We’re still holding hope that someone may have swam to shore. When they anchor overnight they’re pretty close to shore. We have to hope, but we plan for worst case scenario.’

Dozens of people are feared to have died after a 75-foot dive boat burst into flames off the coast of California early Monday. Officials say five people have been rescued and 34 are currently missing

Dozens of people are feared to have died after a 75-foot dive boat burst into flames off the coast of California early Monday. Officials say five people have been rescued and 34 are currently missing

Dozens of people are feared to have died after a 75-foot dive boat burst into flames off the coast of California early Monday. Officials say five people have been rescued and 34 are currently missing

The vessel was anchored by Platts Harbor on the north side of Santa Cruz Island when it caught fire in the middle of the night

The vessel was anchored by Platts Harbor on the north side of Santa Cruz Island when it caught fire in the middle of the night

The vessel was anchored by Platts Harbor on the north side of Santa Cruz Island when it caught fire in the middle of the night

Emergency crews received a call about the fire just before 3.30am local time on Monday, and rescue efforts involving multiple agencies and personal watercraft were still underway as of 7.30am PST

Emergency crews received a call about the fire just before 3.30am local time on Monday, and rescue efforts involving multiple agencies and personal watercraft were still underway as of 7.30am PST

Emergency crews received a call about the fire just before 3.30am local time on Monday, and rescue efforts involving multiple agencies and personal watercraft were still underway as of 7.30am PST

The US Coast Guard has been unable to board the boat because it keeps reigniting, Senior Chief Aaron Bemis said

The US Coast Guard has been unable to board the boat because it keeps reigniting, Senior Chief Aaron Bemis said

The US Coast Guard has been unable to board the boat because it keeps reigniting, Senior Chief Aaron Bemis said

Emergency crews received a call just before 3.30am local time on Monday, and rescue efforts involving multiple agencies and personal watercraft were still underway as of 7.30am PST. 

The US Coast Guard has been unable to board the boat because it keeps reigniting, Senior Chief Aaron Bemis said.

‘It keeps being extinguished and re-flashing, possibly due to the amount of fuel on board. Unsure why, but it’s consistently being put out and re-flashing,’ Bemis said.

‘Multiple coast guard and local Ventura County Fire Department assets on scene, but we’re not able to yet breach the hull and see if there’s any survivors at this point.’ 

‘I’m unaware of any survivors at this time, and I’m also no confirmed casualties at this time. It’s too early to tell.’

Bemis said there were 39 people onboard the boat at the time it caught fire and that 34 passengers got trapped below deck by the blaze while five crew members in the main cabin were able to escape.   

Another Coast Guard official said four of the crew members were transported to the hospital while the boat’s captain remained on the scene. 

The dive boat called Conception was about 20 miles off the coast of Channel Islands National Park, officials said

The dive boat called Conception was about 20 miles off the coast of Channel Islands National Park, officials said

The dive boat called Conception was about 20 miles off the coast of Channel Islands National Park, officials said

Ventura County PIO spokesman Bill Nash said the death toll is unclear but there are believed to be ‘numerous’ fatalities.

‘It’s a large boat, and we know we have numerous fatalities. I don’t have an exact number,’ Nash told CNN.

He said the fire was about 20 miles off the coast of Channel Islands National Park.  

‘We are not sure where it falls jurisdictionally; it’s Coast Guard, Santa Barbara or Ventura,’ he said. 

‘Where that plays in, after we figure out what we’ve got, it’s where to transport the bodies.’

The boat is owned by diving company Truth Aquatics and based in Santa Barbara Harbor

The boat is owned by diving company Truth Aquatics and based in Santa Barbara Harbor

The boat is owned by diving company Truth Aquatics and based in Santa Barbara Harbor 

Conception reportedly departed from Santa Barbara Harbor on Friday night for a Labor Day weekend trip to the pinnacles of San Miguel Island and was expected to return Monday evening, according to the Truth Aquatics website

Conception reportedly departed from Santa Barbara Harbor on Friday night for a Labor Day weekend trip to the pinnacles of San Miguel Island and was expected to return Monday evening, according to the Truth Aquatics website

Conception reportedly departed from Santa Barbara Harbor on Friday night for a Labor Day weekend trip to the pinnacles of San Miguel Island and was expected to return Monday evening, according to the Truth Aquatics website

The dive boat has bunk space for up to 46 passengers. The interior layout is seen above

The dive boat has bunk space for up to 46 passengers. The interior layout is seen above

The dive boat has bunk space for up to 46 passengers. The interior layout is seen above

The boat called Conception is owned by diving company Truth Aquatics and based in Santa Barbara Harbor, a harbor patrol officer told CNN.   

Conception reportedly departed from Santa Barbara Harbor on Friday night for a Labor Day weekend trip to the pinnacles of San Miguel Island and was expected to return Monday evening, according to the Truth Aquatics website.  

The boat has sleeping space for 46 passengers.  

The Ventura County Fire Department tweeted two photos of Conception up in flames as rescuers worked to remove everyone onboard. 

USCG Los Angeles confirmed the incident on Twitter at about 5.30am, writing: ‘The Coast Guard has launched multiple rescue assets along with assets from local agencies to assist more than 30 people in distress on a 75ft boat near Santa Cruz Island. 

‘More details will be available later as this operation continues.’

About 30 minutes later the agency tweeted: ‘The vessel was reported as being on fire. The a group of crew members has been rescued (one with minor injuries) and efforts continue to evacuate the remaining passengers.’ 

Santa Cruz Island is seen above in a file photo

Santa Cruz Island is seen above in a file photo

Santa Cruz Island is seen above in a file photo 

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