CARLSBAD, Calif. — The Coast Guard crews suspended their search efforts Friday, July 16 for the missing owner of a 50-foot boat that caught fire and sank off the Carlsbad coast Thursday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
A Coast Guard Sector San Diego MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew conducted a first-light search Friday morning for approximately an hour.
“This morning I made the decision to suspend the active search for survivors, which is always an extremely difficult one to make," said Cmdr. Joseph Parker, the Sector San Diego deputy commander. "The Coast Guard and our partners extend our deepest condolences to the victim’s family, who remain in our thoughts and prayers. I am indebted to our Coast Guard crews and mission partners; Oceanside Police Department and Encinitas Lifeguards, who always put forward maximum effort to save lives at sea."
The case is suspended pending further information.
Original story below:
United States Coast Guard and lifeguards from Oceanside responded to a boat fire two miles off the Carlsbad coast on Thursday morning.
A good Samaritan called the U.S. Coast Guard public affairs office shortly before 9:45 a.m. to notify them of a fire on a vessel off the coast of Carlsbad, Coast Guard spokesman Adam Stanton said.
Oceanside Fire Battalion Chief confirmed with News 8 the boat that caught fire is the Relentless, a 50-foot long fishing boat based out of Oceanside. The Coast Guard said just one person was believed to be on the boat and that person was still missing as of Thursday night when the boat had completely sunk.
A Coast Guard helicopter responded to the scene along with Encinitas lifeguards and USCG cutters Monroe and Benjamin Bottoms to search for survivors. The helicopter searched 600 square miles for survivors and authorities said they would continue searching through the night.
Sgt. Nick Nunez with Oceanside Police Department said he was one of the three people to get to the Relentless boat fire off the coast of Carlsbad to try and put out the flames.
"It was pretty crazy to see. It's the first time that I've worked a fire that had sustained that much damage and was that engulfed," said Nunez. "I was responding from Oceanside Boulevard and I-5 and I could see it on I-5 so it was putting off a good plume of smoke. Some pretty heavy black smoke. No one was seen on the boat and really by that time - when we arrived on scene - the boat had already sustained some significant damage."
In situations like this, first responders say hopefully the person was able to swim to safety or was picked up by another boat. Oceanside police said they were able to find a floatation device in nearby water but are unsure if it's connected to the “Relentless” boat fire.
Sgt. Nunez said their initial firefight went on for 45 minutes to an hour.
"We fought the fire from here on our vessel 'Rescue 3' so the closest that we got was 15 feet," he said. "We never boarded the vessel itself. It was too big of flames and we're not going to board it when it's still engulfed. Our rescue boat has a fire pump on it so we just pull right from the ocean."
Watch: Boat catches fire a few miles off the coast of Carlsbad