San Diego, July 16 (IANS) Firefighting teams have made “significant progress” extinguishing the four-day-old blaze onboard the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard in San Diego, but there was still a lot to be done before it was declared extinguished, a US Navy spokeswoman said.
As of Wednesday, 40 sailors and 23 civilians have been treated for fire-related injuries such as smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion, reports The San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper.
Without providing further details, Lt. Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman, a spokeswoman for Naval Surface Forces Pacific in San Diego, told the newspaper on Wednesday that the Navy doesn’t have “a whole lot more to report”.
“There’s some smoke, less smoke than the last 24 hours,” Schwegman said, adding: “(The fire) is nowhere near what is was.”
She further said that 84 sailors who lived on the Bonhomme Richard full-time have been moved to living quarters on Naval Base San Diego.
The fire on the 844-foot ship began on Sunday morning and sent plumes of smoke into San Diego city for two days.
Firefighting crews from a dozen San Diego-based ships with more than 400 sailors, were assisting federal firefighters from bases throughout Southern California to help extinguish the blaze.
Several photos of the damage to the ship’s island superstructure and interior were posted online over the last two days, showing entire spaces blackened by fire and smoke as well as at least two large holes in the island’s roof, said The San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper report.
The forward mast, located on the island, collapsed early Monday.
Prior to the blaze, the Bonhomme Richard was nearing the end of an almost two-year, $250 million maintenance and system upgrade meant to modernize the ship and to allow the fifth-generation Marine fighter, the F-35B, to operate on the ship.