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Fire on dive boat Conception in CA

Discussion in 'Accidents and Incidents' started by divezonescuba, Sep 2, 2019.

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  1. Tuttlet

    Tuttlet Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Vancouver
    Continuing this speculative account from those reports - which may or may not be factual, and apologies for the bluntness of the discussion:

    If there was no alert watcher for a period of some 5 to 15 minutes, not noticing an electrical overload (say), leading to smolder, fire, and conflagration, it certainly does seem possible to explain the events of the fire. Even if the watcher were awake on the upper deck reading a book or listening to music they could miss those 15 minutes. Some kind of heat / smoke alarm might have been the only thing to announce the fire if they can truly progress that quickly. If that heat / smoke alarm was not present, or inaudible, then those critical minutes are lost.

    If the anchor watch was not looking around constantly, and even if the crew was awake or asleep upstairs, it might have all happened regardless. There needs to be some kind of alert to situations in the cabin, engine room, bunk room, etc, you have to give the watcher some assistance.
    cerich and markmud like this.
  2. KevinNM

    KevinNM DIR Practitioner

    Boats burn fast: Boat Burn
    "The first fire was set aboard a small, outboard-powered center- console, Habanero, with the “electrical” fire starting inside the console. Of all of the boats torched in the name of boating safety that day, the 16-foot fishing boat with outboard motor best showed that there is no truly no place to hide on a small boat. Just four minutes after ignition, smoke turned from white to black as flames rolled out from under the wheel, threatening anyone who remained aboard. In less than 10 minutes, the heat was so intense that the boat’s aluminum rail melted into a puddle, along with a cooler and a 10-gallon external plastic gas tank. "

    "Trained firefighters lit the galley window drapes of the biggest boat, Jalapeño, a 25-foot inboard/outboard-powered cruiser, with a flare, simulating a typical cooktop fire. After just three minutes, heavy black smoke at the helm of the cruiser left that location a questionable place to survive. Four minutes later, the entire boat was fully engulfed. The crew’s only option would have been to jump overboard."

    Someone, not sure who, posted this link 100 pages or so ago.
    Esprise Me, eleniel, Bob DBF and 5 others like this.
  3. ijdod

    ijdod Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: The Netherlands
    I'm not sure why you'd think that. A single couch cushion is enough to get to point of flashover in a house fire; and when that happens anything remotely flammable in the room is on fire. Pretty much everything you see in the video is flammable, except for some metal bits. The hull is fiberglass, the rest is plywood, with some plastic trim. There's quite a lot of couch there in the cabin. Belowdecks, there's mattresses, curtains, pillows... and that's just the hull and furniture.
    eleniel, Bob DBF and Akimbo like this.
  4. KevinNM

    KevinNM DIR Practitioner

    I said this before, but probably a hundred pages back: My guess is that as part of the NTSB report they will either model or conduct a full-scale burn simulation and it will be horrifying how fast it progresses from the first open flame to unstoppable inferno.
    shoredivr likes this.
  5. Diving Dubai

    Diving Dubai Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dubai UAE
    If there is no requirement or standard for materials to be fire retardant, then that's a major flaw in regs. At home your mattress and soft seating all need to be flame retardant.

    Admittedly fire retardant timber is expensive, but it's possible to spray normal timber (soft material etc) with fire retardant, also add it to paints etc.

    If however regs allow you to go down to Home depot, get some plywood to make a bench and then paint varnish it with no such treatment, that's a problem

    The whole concept is to buy time in conjunction with fire/smoke detectors to give adequate warning to allow escape

    Clearly there was no adequate means of warning in this case
    markmud likes this.
  6. ijdod

    ijdod Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: The Netherlands
    I would assume fire retardation requirements to be subject to the same issues many requirements have: it has to comply when installed. Retardant properties may decline over time, which may not be covered by compliancy.
  7. Capt Jim Wyatt

    Capt Jim Wyatt Hanging at the 10 Foot Stop Staff Member

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Key Largo
    You could answer your own question if you would take the time to read the thread.
    darren a, sqbagal, eleniel and 5 others like this.
  8. bowlofpetunias

    bowlofpetunias Oh no, not again! Staff Member

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Sydney Australia

    A ScubaBoard Staff Message...

    This summary updated 14 Sept 2019 Updates are also posted on page one of this thread. Please follow links and read surrounding posts to keep up to date.

    It is always best to read an entire thread before commenting. Due to the length of this one we are providing & updating this summary for topics covered. We believe this information is credible but it can not be established as proven facts prior to completion of the investigation.

    Please be kind when you post here remember the special rules and consider families, friends and survivors who are reading this. Consider Accidents and Incident Threads: Victim Perspective

    We can not determine the cause here but discussing possibilities may help to prevent future tragedies.

    34 Casualties DNA identified

    Conception compliant met or exceeded applicable USCG requirements on last inspection implies approved; fire alarms, fire fighting equipment and escape routes

    NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) Preliminary Report
    Preliminary Report: Marine DCA19MM047
    Discussion points
    • concludes all crew sleeping
    • Statement in Preliminary Report says it may contain errors

    Anchor Watch

    Rough time line as reported
    • night dive time? commonly done by passengers; NO night dive by Crew
    • 2:30 crew member finished up in the galley verified heating elements were out and cold etc. Then went upstairs to bed. Not indicated if this was the designated Anchor Watch see
    • Between 3 and 3:14, a crew member awoke hearing a bang. He attempted to go down to investigate but stairs already afire.
    • 5 crew were in the wheelhouse two levels above the berth area. 1 crew member in the berth below did not survive.
    • crew jumped to deck, one broke leg other undisclosed ankle injuries
    • Captain first Mayday from Bridge documented 3:14
    • crew tried to reach the passengers from aft passage into the salon/galley then via forward front windows
    • forced from the boat by the fire some swam aft to the dingy & brought it alongside to rescue injured crew
    • sought help from nearby vessel Grape Escape Another Mayday call.

    Most suspected causes of fire discussed
    Battery discussions here

    Original location of fire not yet established
    • former owner believes it started in passenger berth area
    • some believe it started in galley/salon area
    Conception's layout and facilities
    Exits from Dorm
    • main exit - stairs to starboard forward end of the dorm to the galley/salon.
    • emergency hatch above bunks at aft end of dorm exited in aft portion of the salon, just inside the passageway to the after deck.
    • no locked doors to the galley, salon or berth area.

    The design of berth area and escape hatches discussed extensively. It meets current USCG standards which many believe may be changed as a result of this tragedy.

    Excellent DAN article Mental Health post incident

    Google Map link that shows Platt Harbor and the US Coast Guard Station, Channel Islands. Ventura and Santa Barbara are to the north

    Related threads

    A personal perspective on California Live-aboards
    Discussion of legal aspects here
    Condolences posted here
    Donations here
    Ayisha, MikeT73, Azbuceadora and 4 others like this.
  9. tursiops

    tursiops Marine Scientist and Master Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: U.S. East Coast
    We need a new internet acronym....RTFT....Read the F'ing Thread.
    shoredivr, eleniel, gypsyjim and 8 others like this.
  10. johndiver999

    johndiver999 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Gainesville FL
    what would be cool, for the moderators to have the ability to permanently paste one post (e.g., the summary post) at the top of each page. Expecting people to scroll back through 3-20 pages to find the one relatively comprehensive summary is somewhat futile.
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