Santa Cruz boat fire

In the early hours of Monday morning, flames engulfed a dive boat off the coast of California. In total, 39 people were onboard the craft when it went up in flames. On Tuesday, 33 passengers and one crew member are assumed dead, USA Today reported. 20 victims have been recovered from the wreckage during seven rescue missions that spanned the area of 160 miles.

"You couldn't ask for a worse situation," Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at a news conference on Monday.

As NBC reported, five crew members were awake and above deck on the 75-foot boat named Conception when it caught on fire. They were able to escape the boat on a dingy before being rescued by a nearby recreational boat.

The Conception had been scheduled for a diving excursion, according to NBC. It was due back to the dock on Monday night.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown explained to NBC, the event was a perfect storm of terrible circumstances. Not only did the fire break out in the middle of the night while most of the passengers were asleep, but the boat was also in a remote location where the fire would go unnoticed.

"To be in a remote location, have a fire that occurs, have limited if any firefighting capability that could address and then to have all of a sudden a fire that spreads very, very rapidly, you couldn't ask for a worse situation," he said.

Officials say no foul play is suspected, though the investigation is ongoing.