Firefighters Monday continued battling a raging fire aboard a Navy ship that injured dozens of sailors and civilians, caused extensive damage to the vessel, and sent smoke over San Diego County.
The destructive blaze sparked Sunday morning on USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego. Naval forces were “doing everything they can” to save the ship, which sustained considerable superstructure damage since the conflagration erupted on the vessel’s lower decks, Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck said Monday.
A total of 57 people — 34 sailors and 23 civilians — were treated for injuries including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation, according to Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Five people were hospitalized in stable condition.
There were 160 sailors and officers aboard the amphibious assault ship when the fire started shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday. All crew members were accounted for, Navy officials said.
“Today, we suffered a terrible tragedy aboard USS Bonhomme Richard when a fire broke out aboard the ship while in port San Diego,” Adm. Michael M. Gilday, chief of Naval Operations, said Sunday.
“We are grateful for the quick and immediate response of local, base and shipboard firefighters aboard BHR. Our thoughts and prayers are with our BHR sailors, their families and our emergency responders who continue to fight the fire.”
San Diego firefighters joined federal firefighters in responding to the scene, where plumes of smoke could be seen on the naval base. After about 90 minutes, authorities removed firefighters from the ship due to safety reasons. Crews battled the blaze by remote means, including water-dropping helicopters.
Two other docked ships, USS Fitzgerald and USS Russell, were moved to berths away from the blaze, officials said.
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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: AP
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