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LA Times reports phone charger may have sparked Conception boat fire

The NTSB is planning to hold a press conference Thursday to provide an update on its findings
Posted at 9:21 AM, Sep 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-05 21:09:48-04

The Los Angeles Times is reporting two possible theories as to what ignited the deadly dive boat fire that killed 34 people near Santa Cruz Island.

The article quotes Shirley Hansen, who along with her husband, helped rescue the five Conception crew members who escaped the burning boat. The couple brought the survivors aboard their fishing boat, the Grape Escape.

"Once aboard, the crew member who had been jolted awake shook as he recounted the horrific story to Grape Escape owner Shirley Hansen. His theory, Hansen said, was that the fire started in the galley, where cellphones and cameras had been plugged in to charge overnight," the L.A. Times reports.

Hansen told The Times the crew member gave her the impression that the fire was too big to do anything to stop it.

The designer of the Conception, Roy Hauser, also shared his theory of how the fire sparked with The Times.

"[Hauser] said he thought, based in part on footage he viewed of the wood-hulled boat being ravaged by fire, that the blaze started in the bunk area and spread so rapidly that the 34 people there could not get out," the article states.

Hauser told The Times he believed a lithium battery charger sparked the deadly blaze somewhere in the belly of the boat.

"Those people did not have a chance to get out: From stem to stern, that boat was burning," Hauser told the L.A. Times.

Hauser told the newspaper the fire's rapid rate of spread, sparked by a lithium battery, could be the reason why the 33 passengers and one crew members sleeping below deck could not escape.

According to Hauser's account in the L.A. Times, there were electrical outlets in the sleeping quarters, where he thinks the fire started.

Thursday marks the NTSB's second full day of investigating the Conception boat fire. On Wednesday, NTSB member Jennifer Homendy told the media she was confident her investigators would determine exactly how and why the fire occurred as well as how to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again.

The NTSB is planning to hold a press conference Thursday to provide an update on its findings.