Criminal Investigation Launched Into Santa Barbara Boat Fire That Killed 34

An investigation has officially been launched into the dive-boat fire that killed 34 people off the coast of Santa Barbara. Federal authorities launched the criminal investigation on Monday, and are hoping to find out exactly what caused the blaze.

"I just couldn't believe it," Lance Zimmer, a former passenger who had just recently gone on a dive trip aboard the same boat said. "They've had a great track record that's why this event came as a real shock."

According to Zimmer, lithium ion batteries could be the culprit...

"Everybody had phones, cameras. We didn't all have our own personal stations where we could charge stuff so there were kind of central areas with power strips. And they were a bit of a mess," he said.

Zimmer also noted that most of the electronics would be placed near the stairs while charging. Those stairs were the only access out of the boat from below deck.

"I thought there were going to be more survivors. Then as I continued to be glued to every news story that came out, the reality came into focus that this was just utterly tragic," Zimmer said.

According to investigators, it could take up to 18 months before we know any answers.

Read the full story on ABC7.

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