California dive boat fire was 'freak accident,' underwater cinematographer says

An underwater cinematographer said on "Fox & Friends" Wednesday that a California boat fire that killed dozens of scuba diving enthusiasts would not dissuade him from traveling on the same type of boat.

"This was a terrible accident, but it was a freak accident. That'd be like saying if you knew someone in a car accident, you'd never drive in a car again," said Jonathan Bird, who has traveled on many boats similar to the one involved in the Monday morning tragedy.

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.

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A total of 39 people were aboard the Conception when it caught fire off the coast of Santa Cruz on the final day of the Labor Day weekend expedition.

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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. The boat's owner, Truth Aquatics, did not respond to a request for comment.

Bird said there was no way the passengers who were trapped in the cabin below deck were locked in their rooms. He said there would typically be a staircase leading to the deck, as well as an escape hatch for the guests to leave their rooms.

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"There isn't even a door you could lock if you wanted to," he said, emphasizing that boats are designed this way because guests would be less likely to become seasick below deck.

"These are how most live-aboard are built. The passengers, the ones who are paying money to be there, are put in the most comfortable place on the boat."

Fox News' Hollie McKay contributed to this report.