The Conception dive boat caught fire and sank off the coast of California over Labor Day weekend, killing 34 people. At the time that the fire began the crew members who were working the boat were all asleep, in direct contravention to a federal regulation that mandates boats like the Conception have a night watch person.
As the investigation into the tragedy unfolds, one of the primary questions that authorities are struggling with is what caused the fire. Some believe that lithium ion batteries aboard the ship may have been the culprit.
ABC 7 spoke with diver Lance Zimmer, who had sailed on the Conception just a week before the tragedy. Zimmer noted that passengers carried numerous devices with them, such as cell phones and cameras, and that the highly flammable lithium ion batteries in the devices may have been what sparked the blaze. Zimmer noted that the devices were often left charging at a power strip that was located right near the boat’s wooden stairs. The stairs served as the only access below deck to the passengers’ sleeping area.
Investigators retrieved the Conception from the sea on Thursday and transported it to a secure location in order to investigate the cause of the fatal blaze.
Legally, the sinking of the Conception falls under a branch of law called Maritime Law. Maritime law is an incredibly specialized field of practice and because of this relatively few attorneys nationwide have experience with maritime cases.