Inferno continues to ravage USS Bonhomme Richard for a SECOND DAY day as temperatures onboard hit 1,000F and the blaze sends acrid smoke billowing over San Diego

  • Hundreds of firefighters battled for a second day, Monday, from the air, land and water to save a U.S. warship
  • Vessel was swept by flames while moored at a San Diego shipyard, as the number of sailors and civilians injured in the blaze rose to nearly 60
  • So far, 36 sailors and 23 civilians have been treated mostly for minor injuries related to firefighting 
  • The USS Bonhomme Richard, an amphibious assault ship, began listing to its starboard side 
  • The vessel suffered an explosion on Sunday morning in the lower cargo hold of the 844-foot-long ship which had been docked for routine maintenance at its home port at U.S. Naval Base San Diego
  • Flames have spread upwards throughout much of the ship and into the tower and other structures on top
  • The ship was undergoing repairs at the time so only about 160 of the ship’s usual 1,000 crew were aboard
  • Helicopters dropped water over the ship throughout Monday while fire boats on the perimeter streamed water on the hull to cool it from the outside
  • San Diego fire crews stopped blasting water into the ship from shore over worries the vessel might sink
  • Local residents reported smelling smoke from as far away as Vista, which is more than 40 miles away 

Flames tore through a warship for a second day Monday as a top Navy official revealed that a fire suppression system was inoperable when the blaze erupted while the ship was docked in San Diego.

Hundreds of sailors were battling to keep flames away from a million gallons of oil on board the USS Bonhomme Richard. 

The U.S. Coast Guard hired an oil clean-up crew to put in place a containment boom that could be ready if any oil is spilled. It also halted boat traffic within 1 nautical mile of the ship and flights over the vessel.

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

A helicopter drops water on the USS Bonhomme Richard on in San Diego on Monday. Fire crews continued to battle the blaze all day

A helicopter approaches the USS Bonhomme Richard on Monday as crews fight the fire after numerous people suffered minor injuries in an explosion and fire Sunday on board

A U.S. Navy helicopter and city firefighters continue fighting the fire on the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard on Monday

The fire began on Sunday just before 8:30am and it is likely to burn for several more days

Hundreds of firefighters battled the fire for a second day, Monday, from the air, land and water to save the U.S. warship

Efforts to extinguish the fire on the amphibious assault ship continued Monday with more than 24 hours having passed since the blaze first erupted. The fire is seen on Sunday

U.S. Navy Sailors mobilize on a golf cart to combat a fire on board on Sunday. Navy Base and shipboard firefighters responded to the fire

A U.S. Navy Sailor puts on her firefighting ensemble to combat the fire on Sunday. The USS Bonhomme Richard was undergoing maintenance, which began in 2018

An aerial shot of the battleship on Sunday morning shows a thick plume of smoke bellowing from the center of the ship

The ship was undergoing repairs at the time so only about 160 of the ship’s usual 1,000 crew were aboard 

The sailors on the USS Bonhomme Richard had ‘minor injuries’ from the fire and were taken to hospital reported the Navy

The fire that erupted Sunday morning is one of the Navy’s worst shipyard fires in recent years. 

At least 59 people, including 36 sailors and 23 civilians, have been treated for heat exhaustion, smoke inhalation and minor injuries. Five people who had been in a hospital under observation were released.

Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck said fire temperatures had reached up to 1,000 degrees, causing the mast of the ship to collapse and threatening the central control island where the captain operates the vessel. He said there were about two decks between the fire and the fuel supplies on board.

Water being dumped on the vessel to douse the flames was causing the 840-foot (255-meter) ship to list to one side, but crews were pumping off the water.

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.

It’s understood the blaze began after an explosion occurred during routine maintenance 

Smoke was sent rising high into the southern California skies. The smoke was able to be detected some 40 miles away

Smoke continues to rises from the vessel and it is believed that it will take several days before the fire is finally under control

Officials have warned that the fire may burn for several more days yet ‘right down to the waterline’

Firefighting boats spray water onto the U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard

In a photo provided by the U.S. Navy, sailors and Federal Fire San Diego firefighters work to extinguish a fire on board

The above image shows an aerial view of the US Navy ship USS Bonhomme Richard after the explosion

‘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.

Retired Navy Capt. Lawrence B. Brennan, a professor of international maritime law at Fordham University in New York, said there is a risk of the hull rupturing, which could cause the ship to spill its oil and leave the Navy looking at a major environmental mess.

‘If this is a million gallons of oil that ends up settling on the bottom of the San Diego harbor and can’t be removed safely, we’re talking about billions of dollars of environmental damage,’ said Brennan, who has investigated and litigated hundreds of maritime cases.

The fire was first reported in a lower cargo area where seafaring tanks and landing craft are parked. It appears to have started in a spot where cardboard boxes, rags and other ship maintenance supplies were being stored, Sobeck said.

Sobeck believes the cardboard and other supplies might have been what first ignited, though the exact cause is still unknown.

The image above provides another angle of the massive fire aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard

A helicopter from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron drops a bucket of water above the ship early on Monday morning

Rear Admiral Philip Sobeck said that so far, 36 sailors and 23 civilians have been treated mostly for minor injuries related to firefighting but none remain in hospital

Those who were hurt were treated for minor injuries, including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation

San Diego’s top firefighter said the blaze on board the ship could burn for several more days yet

The fire suppression system had been turned off because it was being worked on as part of the ongoing maintenance. The system uses Halon, a liquefied, compressed gas that disrupts a fire and stops its spread by cutting off its oxygen.

Sailors on board and from the pier doused the blaze until it grew too large and they had to retreat. Local and federal firefighters were called in, and an explosion caused by pressure from the heat prompted the evacuation of all 160 people on board, Sobeck said.

Brennan said it’s common that a ship would deactivate the Halon system while it is being worked on because the gas can be dangerous to humans. But the fire’s extensive and rapid spread indicates the Navy might not have done enough to compensate for the deactivation of the suppression system, and had ‘poor or no fire boundaries’ in place, he said.

‘This fire got to pretty much every space on the ship, and to exacerbate the problem, I keep getting signs that there were flammable substances in a lot of spaces – like gear from the shipyard, rags and cloth,’ he said. ‘Ship fires are often unfortunate but not catastrophic in most cases. They usually don’t get out of control this badly.’

The vessel was undergoing routine maintenance at the time of the fire. Naval Base San Diego is the ship’s home port. It’s still not clear what sparked the blaze

A massive fire and explosion on board a Navy ship at Naval Base San Diego has injured several sailors and sent billowing plumes of smoke and ash into the sky

The fire broke out around 8.51am on Sunday morning when San Diego Fire Rescue rushed to the scene

The flames were burning plastic, cabling and other material on board, sending the haze over downtown San Diego. The San Diego Air Pollution Control District warned that concentrations of fine particulate matter could reach unhealthful levels in some areas and that people should avoid exercising outdoors and stay indoors if possible to limit exposure.

Sobeck said there was no ordnance on board the ship and he did not believe there was anything toxic.

Firefighters attacked the flames inside the ship while firefighting vessels with water cannons directed streams of seawater into the ship and helicopters made water drops.

The ship can be used to deploy thousands of Marines to shore and has the capacity to accommodate helicopters, certain types of short-takeoff airplanes, small boats and amphibious vehicles.

Firefighters are pictured erecting a crane to battle the blaze which has now been raging for more than two days

Firefighting efforts have involved personnel from Naval Base San Diego (right) and the City of San Diego Fire Department (left), along with Harbor Police fire boats and fire teams from other ships, according to the Navy

A Navy helicopter is seen flying over the ship in a water dump as one fire fighter suspended in the air on a ladder fires a stream of water towards the deck

Smoke continued to billow into the air on Monday. It’s unclear how long it will take responders to get control of the blaze

The USS Bonhomme Richard is an assault-style ship that’s outfitted to carry landing craft and transfer equipment, troops and landing boats. The ship’s last deployment was in 2018 before it was docked for maintenance 

Massive clouds of smoke enveloped the base during  Sunday morning’s fire 

USS Bonhomme Richard is seen ablaze on Sunday evening with a thick plume of smoke billowing into the sky

A view of the smoking naval ship above. It’s unclear what sparked the fire and explosion but it occurred during maintenance 

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