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Warship fire on San Diego Bay is possibly arson

An act of arson may have sparked an explosive fire that tore through the USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego in July, extensively damaging the warship and injuring scores of emergency personnel while raging for four days, it was said Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Citing anonymous sources, 10News reported that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service has identified a Navy sailor who may have set the blaze intentionally.

The sources told the news station that search warrants have executed at the home of the sailor, whose name and rank were not disclosed.

A Navy representative declined to comment on the report.

The massive fire erupted late in the morning, July 12, in a storage area aboard the 27,565-ton military sea vessel and soon was sending thick columns of acrid smoke above San Diego Bay and across much of the city.

The inferno, which set off several strong explosions within the amphibious assault ship, eventually sent below-deck temperatures as high as 1,200 degrees and left the ship listing due to the amount of water it took on from the firefighting efforts.

Following an intensive multi-agency operation that left 40 sailors and 23 civilian firefighters injured, military officials declared the blaze fully extinguished July 16.

Navy officials have said it remains to be seen whether the ship can be restored to fully operative status – or if it should, in light of the complications and expense the project would entail.


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