21 sailors, civilians hospitalized after naval ship explosion in San Diego

17 sailors and 4 civilians have been rushed to hospital following a massive explosion on a Navy ship in San Diego last Sunday, according to authorities. 

The USS Bonhomme Richard, which has a crew size of about 1,000, caught fire at around 8:30 a.m., Naval Surface Forces officials reported. It grew to a ‘three-alarm’ level, as per the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, which helped in fighting the flames, side by side with base and shipboard teams.

The victims are being treated for non-lethal injuries at a local hospital, Mike Raney, a spokesperson for Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, told ABC News.

Some of the injuries are reportedly serious while others were caused by smoke inhalation.

According to a defense official, 19 firefighters have also been at least mildly injured while dealing with the inferno.

There were 160 sailors on board at the time the blaze started growing, and the whole crew has been accounted for, according to Naval Surface Forces. 

All SDFD responders are also safe and sound, officials reported.

During a Sunday press briefing, Rear Admiral Philip Sobeck said the fire seems to have come from the lower cargo hold of the ship. It remains unclear what exactly ignited the explosion, but there is still a “low risk for secondary explosions,” he said.

Officials have cleared the perimeter around the area and are monitoring the ship’s temperature and quality of air, according to Sobeck. In addition, The United States Coast Guard has closed San Diego Channel south of Coronado Bridge to all boating traffic, he said.

According to officials putting the flames out would be a highly difficult task, but firefighters were doing everything they can.

“All in-port ships have been contacted and directed to provide fire parties to possibly assist with firefighting efforts,” Raney said.

Two firefighting teams were dealing with the blaze on the ship, Federal Fire San Diego Division Chief Rob Bondurant said in a statement. 

“Federal Fire is rotating their crews aboard the ship with U.S. Navy firefighting crews from the waterfront to fight the fire in order to find the seat of the fire and extinguish it,” he said, noting that Navy Region Southwest tug boats are also battling the inferno from the water.

The USS Fitzgerald and USS Russell, which were located nearby, have since moved away from the location. 

The investigation is still ongoing.

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