The Navy said Monday morning that 57 sailors and civilians were injured in the explosion and fire Sunday aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego.
A statement from Naval Surface Forces said that "As of 6:30 a.m. Pacific time, firefighting teams continue operations on board USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6),57 personnel, both U.S. Navy Sailors and civilians, have been treated for minor injuries including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. Of those, 5 remain hospitalized for observation and are currently in stable condition."
San Diego firefighters first responded about nine o'clock this morning to what quickly became a three alarm fire. San Diego Fire said Sunday no firefighters were hurt.
The cause remained under investigation. Navy Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3, told the Union Tribune the Navy believes the fire began in a lower cargo hold, a deep V area, where marine equipment and vehicles are stored.
Witnesses say they heard an explosion and then saw the thick black smoke pouring out of the ship. The smoke could be seen from the South Bay to Mission Bay and in other parts of the city, and residents as far away as El Cajon could smell the smoke from the fire and the hazy skies.
The San Diego based amphibious assault ship has been undergoing routine maintenance at the 32nd Street Naval Base. There was a report the explosion may have been the result of a welding mishap. There were approximately 160 personnel on the ship Sunday morning.
San Diego is the Bonhomme Richard's home port and it was undergoing routine maintenance at the time of the fire. The ship has the capacity to deploy and lands helicopters, smaller boats and amphibious vehicles.
(Photo above credit Raymond Herrera)
(Photo below taken by LaDona Harvey as she landed at SDI )