Four hundred members of the US Navy are struggling valiantly to put out the 1000 degree fire burning aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard in San Diego, and officials are not sure when they will be able to put out the blaze.

The fire has brought down the amphibious assault ship’s forward mast and caused other damage to the ship’s superstructure that rises above its flight deck.

“There is a tremendous amount of heat underneath and that’s where it’s — it’s flashing up — also forward, closer to the bow again there’s a heat source and we’re trying to get to that as well,” Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3 said at a news conference Monday in San Diego.

The fire began where construction supplies were kept. The incident has led to the injury of over 50 personnel.

The fire began shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday in a part of the vessel where cardboard and drywall supplies are kept, according to the Navy and the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. After about 90 minutes, authorities decided to remove all firefighters from the vessel for safety reasons and battle the blaze by remote means, including water dropped from helicopters and sprayed onto the ship via firefighting boats surrounding it on the bay.

About two hours after the fire began, a blast of unknown origin shook the vessel.

“None of the (SDFRD) firefighters were on board the ship when the explosion happened, but the blast threw several firefighters off their feet,” the city department reported.

A total of 57 crew members battling the blaze have suffered various injuries, mostly heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation, according to Navy officials. Five have been hospitalized in stable condition.

Meanwhile, acrid smoke from the blaze wafted across San Diego, and health officials urged people to stay indoors if they smelled it.

The fire that erupted Sunday morning is one of the Navy’s worst shipyard fires in recent years. At least 57 people have been treated for heat exhaustion, smoke inhalation and minor injuries. Five remained hospitalized under observation.

Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck said fire temperatures had reached up to 1,000 degrees, causing the mast to collapse and threatening the central

Sobeck said it was too soon to give up on saving the 23-year-old amphibious assault ship, which has been docked in San Diego since 2018 undergoing maintenance.

“In the last 24 hours, 400 sailors have been on board that ship to make sure that, you know, we make every effort to save that ship,” said Sobeck, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3

 

 
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