The owner of a California dive company said on "Fox & Friends" that the fire that killed dozens of scuba diving enthusiasts on Monday was an unthinkable event and he'd never seen anything like it in his 38 years in the business.
"This is something that has never, ever happened to a California dive boat before," said Ken Kurtis, the owner of Reef Seekers Dive Company, on Wednesday. "I don't even know of fires where they were significant enough that you saw significant boat damage."
A total of 39 people were aboard the Conception, owned by Truth Aquatics, when it caught fire off the coast of Santa Cruz on the final day of a Labor Day weekend expedition.
Santa Barbara County officials announced Tuesday that the search for survivors had been suspended; 34 people were presumed dead. The bodies of 20 people – 9 men and 11 women – were recovered, and divers found at least four others in the hollowed wreckage. The identification process will require DNA testing, investigators said.
The Conception’s captain, Jerry Boylan, made a mayday call to a Coast Guard dispatcher around 4 a.m. on Monday.
Ventura County firefighters were able to reach the burning vessel within 15 minutes but struggled to extinguish the scorching boat as it continued to erupt in flames.
"Fox & Friends" host Brian Kilmeade asked Kurtis for his take on how the fire could have started. Kurtis emphasized that authorities have ruled out an explosion, so he mentioned an electrical problem or a possible "short" in a generator on the boat.
Kurtis, who said he'd been on that same vessel "a number of times," said divers often carry cameras with batteries that need to be recharged and one could have set off a spark overnight.
He expressed confidence that the National Transportation Safety Board will figure out how the inferno started.
"We average about four or five diving fatalities every year, usually because people run out of air or do something like that. So this thing, with 34 people dead, is the equivalent of seven or eight years of fatalities all in one day," said Kurtis, adding that anyone who enjoys California dive boats has slept in the exact same type of bunk room.
Fox News' Hollie McKay contributed to this report.