A fire suppression system was inoperable when a blaze erupted aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard in San Diego, so sailors fought the blaze with water, a top Navy official said Monday.
Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck said the Halon gas system had been turned off because it was being worked on while the amphibious assault ship was undergoing maintenance work.
The fire erupted Sunday morning and continues to burn. It broke out in a lower cargo area where cardboard and drywall supplies were stored and firefighters initially fought it with water until they had to withdraw, Sobeck said. Halon is a liquefied compressed gas that disrupts the chemical process of a fire.
At least 57 people were treated for heat exhaustion, smoke inhalation and minor injuries. Five remained in hospitalized under observation.
Sobeck said fire had spread throughout the ship Monday.