Federal authorities have initiated a criminal investigation into the dive boat fire that killed 34 people off the Southern California coast.
The Department of Justice on Monday authenticated that it was participating in the joint investigation with the Coast Guard, FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
The 75-foot commercial dive boat, the Conception, exploded into flames off Santa Cruz Island early on Sept. 2, but the flames were so powerful, crew members told investigators no one below deck could be saved.
Citing law enforcement sources, the Los Angeles Times detailed that investigators were mainly looking at plausible safety lapses on the boat, such as the lack of a “roaming night watchman” to keep a lookout for potential emergencies throughout the night. There are also questions about whether the crew was sufficiently trained to control such an emergency.