Fire breaks out aboard US Navy vessel in San Diego, 21 injured
SAN DIEGO (US) – A fire broke out aboard a US warship docked at San Diego Naval Base on Sunday and the flames raged for hours. As many as 21 people were hospitalised with minor injuries and two vessels nearby had to be relocated.
According to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, there was an explosion and the fire broke out at 8:30 am local time (1530 GMT) aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard, which is an amphibious assault vessel. It was docked for routine maintenance.
Rear Admiral Philip Sobeck said in a briefing that the blast was caused by the rapid initial release of heat from a confined space under pressure.
He said the fire broke out in a lower cargo hold of the vessel and spread to the decks above.
According to Navy officials, ammunition had already been unloaded as a standard safety procedure before the vessel was docked for maintenance.
The admiral said that 1 million gallons of fuel remained isolated “well below where any heat source is,” adding that fire officials worked all day to ensure it was not affected.
Half a dozen firefighters pumped jets of water onto the burning vessel for hours while palls of thick smoke, which was visible for miles, engulfed the 844-foot (257 meter) warship.
Seventeen crew and four civilians were taken to local hospitals for treatment.
Sobeck said the hospitalised sailors were in a stable condition. The injuries consist of smoke inhalation, heat exhaustion and minor burns.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field