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Four Bodies Found And 30 People Still Missing After Excursion Boat Fire In Channel Islands

Firefighters from Ventura, Santa Barbara Counties battle burning excursion boat Monday morning in Channel Islands

Four people have been confirmed dead, and 30 are still missing following a fire on an excursion boat in the Channel Islands.  Coast Guard officials say they responded to a distress call from a boat near Santa Cruz Island just after 3:30 Monday morning. 

The 75 foot long boat, the Conception, was based in Santa Barbara.   Coast Guard officials say five crew members who were awake, and on duty on the ship's desk were able to jump into the oceam, where they were rescued by a nearby boat.

But, officials say 30 of the 34  passengers who were below deck sleeping are still missing.  The Coast Guard and other agencies are still searching for possible survivors.

The craft was less than a hundred feet from the coastline, so the search includes efforts to find possible survivors who may have made it to shore.

The Coast Guard deployed helicopters and a Coast Guard cutter to the scene, and both the Ventura and Santa Barbara County Fire Departments sent teams.  At a news conference, Coast Guard officials were asked if an explosion might have led to the fire, allowing the blaze to spread rapidly, but they said they didn't have the answer to that question yet.

The boat was fully enveloped in flames when firefighters reach the scene. It sank in about 60 feet of water, with the bow still visible.  It was a well known excursion and dive boat.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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