Most of the sailors injured in a massive fire aboard the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard Sunday suffered from smoke inhalation, Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3, told reporters Sunday evening in San Diego, where the ship had been burning for nearly 12 hours.
The sailors were in stable condition, he said.
“Most of them are attributed to smoke inhalation,” Sobeck said. “I don’t have the facts of all of them.”
Seventeen sailors and four civilians were injured in the blaze.
While the precise cause remained unknown Sunday night, Sobeck said there was “nothing toxic” in the ship, and that the black smoke billowing from the amphibian all day was caused by office and berthing items burning.
The fire is believed to have started below those spaces, in the lower cargo hold of the ship, known as the “Deep V,” Sobeck said.
It is a “huge open area where you store a lot of (Marine Corps) equipment and everything else,” he said. “That’s where we believe it was started.”