Criminal investigation launched in deadly SoCal boat fire

SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 04: FBI personnel gather on a jetty by FBI Dive Team boats in Santa Barbara Harbor on September 4, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. Authorities announced that the bodies of 33 victims have been recovered after the commercial scuba diving ship Conception caught fire and later sank, while anchored near Santa Cruz Island, in the early morning hours of September 2. Five crew members survived. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Federal law enforcement agencies have begun a criminal investigation into the dive boat fire that killed 34 people near Santa Cruz Island last week, law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times Monday.

The probe is being led by the US. Coast Guard criminal investigative group and is being coordinated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, one source told the Times.

Investigators with the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Coast Guard began searching the office of Truth Aquatics Inc., the company that operated the Conception, over the weekend.

The fire broke out on Sept. 2 during a holiday weekend diving trip. The cause remains under investigation, but law enforcement sources told the Times that early evidence suggested serious safety problems aboard the Conception.



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