YOLO COUNTY (CBS13) — As memorials take place across the country for the 34 victims of the Conception dive boat fire, officials released the likely cause of death: smoke inhalation.
Efforts continue to raise the boat from the waters off the coast of Santa Barbara. At a media briefing, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said the victims likely didn’t perish from burns.
“The preliminary indications are that the cause of death was smoke inhalation. As I indicated earlier, we will not have a final cause and manner of death until all aspects of the coroner’s investigation including toxicology results come back in,” Brown said.
The names of 22 victims were also released, and they included UC Davis graduate 26-year-old Kendra Chan and her father Scott Chan. In a video interview provided by UC Davis, Chan talked about how she grew up enjoying science.
“I grew up fortunate to have parents that majored in science; they definitely encouraged me to pursue my interest,” Chan said in the video.
The fact that investigators announced the victims died of smoke inhalation and not burns means they likely didn’t suffer, according to Sacramento Metro Fire Spokesperson Chris Vestal.
“These people were sleeping and when you’re sleeping and breathing, you’re going to breathe in that carbon monoxide, you’re going to slowly become unconscious. Most likely they didn’t know this fire was occurring. We hope that’s the case,” Vestal said.
Vestal added that with this type of fire and the construction of the boat, a sprinkler system on board would likely have been little help.
“Sprinkler systems typically prevent a fire from spreading at its inception, so most likely in a big fire like that it would not have made too much of a difference, but we don’t typically see sprinklers on that size of boat,” Vestal said.
Investigators are still trying to pinpoint the cause of the fire.