Fatal fire foiled rescue attempts by California boat crew

In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, a dive boat is engulfed in flames after a deadly fire broke out aboard the commercial scuba diving vessel off the Southern California Coast, Monday morning, Sept. 2, 2019. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) - Crewmembers who jumped from a burning scuba diving boat off Southern California said they tried to rescue the 34 people who perished in the fiery sinking but couldn't reach them.

Federal investigators say crew members on the Conception couldn't reach those in bunks below deck Monday because an entrance through the galley was on fire and they couldn't open windows at the front before being forced to jump ship.

The boat owner, Glen Fritzler, tells KEYT-TV that the crew did everything possible and the captain stayed aboard so long that he appeared to be trailing smoke when he leapt into the water.

He also says flames kept the crew from reaching firefighting equipment.

Fritzler says the five survivors are "breaking down" from the experience and are seeking counseling.

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