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'I'm just trembling': Vancouver-based scuba diver says California boat fire has given her much to think about

Last Updated Sep 3, 2019 at 8:32 am PDT

In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, firefighters work to extinguish a dive-boat engulfed in flames after a deadly fire broke out aboard the commercial scuba diving vessel off the Southern California Coast Monday morning, Sept. 2, 2019. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)
Summary

A Vancouver-based scuba diver says she never thought about the possibility of fire aboard a dive-boat until this week

At least two doze people were killed in a dive-boat fire off the coast of Southern California

'Accidents like this are very rare,' says Karen Tankard, a Vancouver scuba diver

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A deadly boat fire off the coast of Southern California has a Vancouver-based scuba diver “trembling” as she thinks about those affected.

At least 25 people were killed when a dive-boat was engulfed by flames in the early hours of Monday. Nine people are still considered missing, and the Coast Guard has said five others have been found, but not recovered due to unsafe conditions under the boat, which sank in about 18 meters of water.

Long-time scuba diver Karen Tankard says these kinds of tragedies on “live-aboards” aren’t common. That said, she says seeing images of what happened on the news has her “just trembling.”

“Accidents like this are very rare, but still terrifying for anyone who does any kind of overnight scuba diving trips,” she tells NEWS 1130. “It’s sort of given me something to think about.”

Tankard, who is currently on an excursion in Mexico, says she’s booked a live-aboard trip in the Bahamas this time next year. What happened in Southern California has given her a lot to think about.

“A six-day live-aboard journey, and absolutely, I’m thinking about whether I want to do that in light of what happened here,” she admits.

Live-aboards are typically more expensive than day-diving scuba trips, Tankard explains. She says typically, fires aren’t the main concern.

“I’ve done one seven day live-aboard to the Galapagos in 2016, and you know, I was concerned about storms being out hundreds of miles away from land with no other boats in the area,” she says. “Fire never occurred to me at all.”

It’s still unclear what caused the fire aboard the dive-boat Conception. The 23-meter boat was on a three-day excursion to the chain of rugged, wind-swept isles that form Channel Islands National Park in the Pacific Ocean west of Los Angeles. The fire broke out as the boat sat anchored in Platt’s Harbor off Santa Cruz Island.