Rough seas suspend search for final victim of boat fire

FILE - In this Sept. 2, 2019, file photo, provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, firefighters work to extinguish a dive boat engulfed in flames after a deadly fire broke out aboard the commercial scuba diving vessel off the Southern California Coast. The owners of the dive boat where 34 people perished in a fire off the coast of Southern California filed a legal action in federal court Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019, to head off potentially costly lawsuits. Truth Aquatics Inc., which owned the Conception, filed the action in Los Angeles under a pre-Civil War provision of maritime law that allows it to limit its liability. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP, File)

The search for the final victim of a scuba diving boat fire off the Southern California coast has been suspended until early next week because of gusty winds and rough seas

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The search for the final victim of a boat fire off the Southern California coast has been suspended until early next week because of gusty winds and rough seas.

Authorities said they also suspended efforts to salvage the Conception off of Santa Cruz Island because the conditions were expected to last through the weekend.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Lt. Erik Raney says the Conception has been secured underwater, where it will remain until it is safe to resume the salvage operation.

Thirty-four scuba divers died when the boat caught fire and sank before dawn on Monday. They were sleeping in a cramped bunkroom below the main deck and their escape routes were blocked by fire.

Medical examiners say the victims appear to have died from smoke inhalation.

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