"There is no evidence so far that the fire was intentional:" Navy spokesman



SAN DIEGO -- More than 400 sailors are working to put out the massive fire that continues to rage aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard in San Diego and Navy officials are unclear how long the blaze might continue to burn.

The fire has brought down the amphibious assault ship's forward mast and caused other damage to the ship's superstructure that rises above its flight deck.

Yesterday "all 21 people were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Most of them consist of smoke inhalation, heat exhaustion, and minor burns," U.S. Navy said in a statement.

Local military officials and the San Diego Fire Department relocated two more Navy ships away from the fire.

The USS Bonhomme Richard's fire was caused by an explosion, which occurred at 8h30 local time.

"The explosion was caused by the rapid heat release from a confined space under pressure," Rear Admiral Philip Sobeck said.

The exact origin of the fire is under investigation, although it is believed that it started in a lower cargo hold before it reached the ship's decks.

"There is no evidence so far that the fire was intentional," Navy spokesman Mike Raney said.

The ship had only 160 crew members on board at the moment of the explosion. It usually carries approximately 1,000 people.

"There is a tremendous amount of heat underneath and that's where it's -- it's flashing up -- also forward, closer to the bow again there's a heat source and we're trying to get to that as well," Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3 said at a news conference Monday in San Diego.

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