WASHINGTON --- A fire suppression system aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard was under maintenance and not operational when the devastating fire, believed to have originated in the cargo hold of the ship, broke out Sunday morning, a senior Navy officer said Monday.
As of Monday, 34 sailors and 23 civilians have been treated for minor injuries while firefighters battle the fire aboard the ship for a second day, said Lt. Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman, a spokeswoman with Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Of the 17 sailors who were hospitalized Sunday, five sailors have remained in the medical facility for observation and are in stable condition.
So far, minor injuries include heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation, according to Schwegman.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation and the origin of an explosion that also occurred on the ship Sunday is still unknown, The Associated Press reported.
A fire was reported aboard the amphibious assault ship at about 8:30 a.m. Sunday while it was moored at the pier, said Mike Raney, a spokesman for Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. At the time of the fire about 160 sailors were on the ship, which was undergoing maintenance, according to Raney. The ship typically has a crew of about 1,000.
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