Home Fire News Firefighters enter fourth day battling blaze aboard USS Bonhomme Richard

Firefighters enter fourth day battling blaze aboard USS Bonhomme Richard

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Firefighters continued to battle back the flames aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard four days after an explosion on board injured at least 34 sailors and nearly a dozen civilians.

The amphibious assault ship was docked at Naval Base San Diego when the blaze broke out onboard Sunday morning. Sailors were responding to the fire when the vessel was rocked by an internal explosion around 8:30 a.m., according to Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group Three.

The Bonhomme Richard is one of the ships under his supervision.

During a press conference Tuesday, three days into the hard-fought battle against the blaze, Sobeck said they have made “significant progress,” though it is unclear whether the USS Bonhomme Richard will be able to be salvaged.

The flames have already toppled the ship’s forward mast and have caused additional damage to the ship’s superstructure, which rises above its flight deck.

“There is tremendous amount of heat underneath and that’s where 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,” Sobeck said, adding that temperatures in the fire’s heat sources are hitting as high as 1,000 degrees.

While the smoke billowing around the ship decreased on Tuesday and into early Wednesday but Sobeck warned that they were still fighting a large fire inside, which has been isolated in two areas.

The main fire was at the front of the ship, which firefighters initially fought externally because of the heat of the fire

“It looks clearer from the outside but inside, we’re still fighting a major fire inside,” he said, adding that he was hopeful the ship would sail again.

“We have investigated the four main engineering spaces and found no major damage. There is no threat to the fuel tanks, which are well below any active fires or heat sources,” he said. “The ship is stable and the structure is safe.”

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