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Fires aboard USS Bonhomme Richard are out, Navy says

Fire crews on the USS Bonhomme Richard were still fighting Thursday to contain a blaze that broke out on Sunday. Photo via Naval Surface Forces/Twitter
Fire crews on the USS Bonhomme Richard were still fighting Thursday to contain a blaze that broke out on Sunday. Photo via Naval Surface Forces/Twitter

July 16 (UPI) -- All fires on the USS Bonhomme Richard have been extinguished, the Navy announced Thursday afternoon.

"Our fire teams, are investigating every space to verify the absence of fire. Until every space is checked and there are no active fires we will not be able to commence any official investigations," said Rear Admiral Philip E. Sobeck Commander, the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3, which includes the Bonhomme Richard, said in a statement.

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"We did not know the origin of the fire. We do not know the extent of the damage. It is too early to make any predictions or promises of what the future of the ship will be," Sobeck said.

Late Wednesday night firefighters evacuated the ship as its tilt continued to worsen due to excessive water, but they resumed fighting the days-old blaze Thursday morning.

RELATED Helicopter water drops help fight fire on USS Bonhomme Richard

"Out of an abundance of caution the pier and ship were cleared of personnel due to an initial shift in the ship's list," said a tweet from Naval Surface Forces posted at 11 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday. "Personnel are now pier side. We will continue to monitor as the ship settles."

As of Wednesday morning, 1,500 buckets of water had been dropped on the ship in an effort to keep the exterior cool.

According to Sobeck, the fire has destroyed the ship's forward mast and damaged its superstructure, which sits on top of the ship and where the bridge is located.

RELATED USS Bonhomme Richard remains on fire, two more sailors hurt while battling blaze

A total of 63 people -- 40 sailors and 23 civilians -- have been treated for minor injuries related to the fire, including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation.

The fire was reported in a lower cargo area where seafaring tanks and landing craft were parked, and appears to have started in an area where ship maintenance supplies, like cardboard boxes and rags, were stored.

Officials were particularly concerned about ensuring the fire did not reach a part of the ship where one million gallons of fuel were stored.

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"What we do know is, that brave Sailors from commands all across San Diego worked tirelessly alongside Federal Firefighters to get this fire extinguished and I want to thank them for their efforts. This was a Navy team effort," Sobeck said Thursday.

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