At least 21 people suffered minor injuries after a rather persistent fire broke out Sunday aboard the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard in port in Naval Base San Diego, with members of the crew and local fire department personnel battling the ongoing blaze, the Navy confirmed on Sunday.
The blaze was reported at about 8:30 a.m. local time (1530 GMT) aboard the vessel which was docked in port for routine maintenance, with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department reporting an explosion in conjunction with the blaze.
According to the local emergency scanner, officials were clearing the pier after “a large explosion” on the ship.
In addition the fire prompted a relocation of two other US Navy vessels moored nearby, as military and local fire officials confirmed.
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Reuters reports that the blast was believed to have been triggered by the rapid initial release of heat from a confined space under pressure, as opposed to an explosion of fuel or ordnance, Rear Admiral Philip Sobeck told a news conference on Sunday evening.
The precise source of the blaze remains unknown, however the fire originated in a lower cargo hold of the ship and spread into the decks above it, consuming materials that typically burn in an office or apartment fire, Sobeck said.
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Pictures of the ship circulating online show smoke billowing out of the superstructure.
Navy spokesman Mike Raney told Reuters there was no immediate evidence of foul play.