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Rapid DNA testing helping identify Conception fire victims

Posted at 6:53 PM, Sep 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-06 22:10:18-04

Due to the intensity and severity of the Conception dive boat fire, DNA testing was needed to identify the victims.

Local authorities called on the Sacramento County Coroner's Office for help.

Identification is being done through a rapid DNA analysis device developed by ANDE, a DNA-testing company based in Colorado.

The Sacramento team previously used ANDE to help identify about 85% of the victims of the Camp Fire, which devastated most of Paradise, California last year.

"ANDE has been able to take all of that processing that happens in a lab and really put it inside an instrument that is about the size of a large desktop printer," says John Sims, the company's Chief Operating Officer.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation helped collect the DNA samples from family members around the U.S. and out of the country.

The process began Tuesday evening and was mostly done by Thursday.

Four employees from the company made the trip to Santa Barbara overnight in order to help deliver a second sampling device and the proper cartridges.

The DNA testing process takes around 93 to 94 minutes and each device is able to take one cartridge which can hold from four to five samples at a time.

In the case of burn victims, dental records are most likely not an option and limit the types of samples available.

Sims also says that the best matches for DNA sampling are typically a parent, sibling, or child.