California dive boat where 34 died had no night watchman when fire broke out, feds say

California dive boat where 34 died had no night watchman when fire broke out, feds say
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No crew members were on watch when a fire broke out on a dive boat last week near Santa Cruz Island, Calif., killing 34 people, federal investigators said Thursday. 

The six-member crew was asleep at the time, five in berths behind the wheelhouse and one in a bunkroom, according to the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) two-page preliminary report

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A U.S. Coast Guard captain had previously said the 75-foot Conception was required by a safety certificate to assign a watchman or “rover,” according to Reuters

A crew member sleeping in the wheelhouse berths woke up to a noise and found a fire on the sun deck. The crew member alerted the crew behind the wheelhouse and the captain radioed a distress message to the Coast Guard, investigators said.

The five surviving crew members told investigators they attempted to access the passengers below, but at that point the salon was engulfed by a fire and thick smoke. 

Unable to open the window and overwhelmed by smoke, the crew jumped overboard, the report said. 

The preliminary report is subject to change and may be corrected as the investigation continues, NTSB said. 

The body of the final victim from the Sept. 2 boat fire was recovered Wednesday. 

Authorities said 21 women and 12 men between 16 and 62 years old appeared to have died from smoke inhalation, according to The Associated Press.