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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Crews Continue To Fight Raging Fire Aboard Navy Ship On San Diego Bay

 July 13, 2020 at 11:57 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 California governor Gavin Newsome put more restrictions on indoor activities today. The governor said at his press conference that he's again, applying the dimmer switch to what's allowed to be open in the state fitness centers, places of worship offices for non-critical sectors, personal care services, uh, that includes air salons, barbershops, and indoor malls. So again, these are sectors to clause indoor operations in the counties that are on the monitoring list that state monitoring list includes San Diego County among the 30 counties now affected by restrictions on indoor activities. Meanwhile, indoor activities, including restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, movie theaters, zoos, and museums card rooms, and all bars are prohibited. Now in every County in the state Newsome said the governor's cited an upward trend in the number of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and patients in intensive care units. As the reason behind issuing more restrictions in order to slow the spread, everyone should realize the governor said that COVID-19 isn't going anywhere soon. He said it will be with us until there is a vaccine or effective treatment. Speaker 2: 01:15 San Diego is starting the week with hazy skies and foul smelling air. As the fire aboard the USS Bonham Rashard continues to burn. The fire began Sunday morning, deep within the amphibious assault ship in a lower cargo hold. The Navy says 57 sailors and civilians have been treated for injuries. Firefighters have used helicopter drops and tugboat water jets to try to extinguish the flames. Meanwhile, low clouds and light winds have spread the smoke over many parts of the County. Joining me as KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman, who is at Naval base, San Diego downtown, and Matt. Welcome. Hey Maureen, the Navy has just held a news conference about the fire. What did we learn? Speaker 1: 02:01 Yeah, so we're learning that the ship has still been burning over the last 24 hours and more than 400 sailors have been fighting to save the ship. Now, if you come down here to this, to this area down by 32nd, treat by Naval base, San Diego, a lot of smoke in the air, kind of a, sort of a plastic chemical smell, but we know that the bonus sustained some damage in terms of, um, the upper decks continue to burn. And we know that the Ford mass has collapsed and the ship, if you come down here, it's a little tilted, it's listing a little bit. And the officials, the Navy officials say that's because a fire crews are putting water onto the boat. So it's listing a little bit, but they say, they think it's a two an okay, Speaker 2: 02:36 How are the sailors and civilians who were, Speaker 1: 02:39 Yeah. So we know that, um, overnight those numbers grew in terms of who was injured, 57 personnel. Now in total and total, they say five of those people are still at the hospital. Um, w w they say minor injuries that we've been seeing from people, things like heat, exhaustion, smoke inhalation, um, and like we said, five of those are in the hospital and they say of those five, they're all in stable condition. And what our officials saying about Speaker 2: 03:00 The smoke and the air quality around San Diego, Speaker 1: 03:03 Right? So they say onboard the ship. I'm like where the fire started sort of in that T pole is where a lot of Marine equipment is and sort of some holding tanks. So definitely they say that there's plastics that are burning. Obviously if you come down here, you can sort of smell that in the air, but they say in terms of any other chemicals, there's no other chemicals that they say that people need to be worried or concerned about right now, Speaker 3: 03:21 As we continue to fight the fire, we remain cognizant of environmental concerns regarding the water and air quality. Um, and we recommend following County advisory for safety out of a bunch of caution. And we are again, uh, ensuring that again, that communication, uh, is, is put out to everybody. Speaker 1: 03:38 And that was rear Admiral Phillips Sobeck Speaker 2: 03:41 Under of the expeditionary strike group three. So what are the advisories though, for people who may, you know, be very sensitive to what they're smelling in the air? Yeah. Speaker 1: 03:53 Officials basically saying people who are sensitive to this, you know, to sort of avoid the area, uh, we saw in the city of national city, they sort of put out an alert to residents saying, look, stay inside right now as a ship continues to burn. But keep in mind though, we are in the, uh, the tail end of a, of a heat wave here. So it might be hard for people to stay inside. Um, during these rising temperatures Speaker 2: 04:13 Type of resources have been used in responding to the fire, Speaker 1: 04:16 Maureen, right now, there are some Navy helicopters that are in the air dropping water from above. Now, we didn't see that yesterday, that started late last night. And then there's also some Navy tugs in the water that are hitting the boat with water, not necessarily hitting it to stop the fire, but even just to cool down the sides of the boat. And then we have a lot of federal firefighters and a lot of Navy firefighters, obviously, local agencies going back yesterday, stepping in and helping as well. Speaker 2: 04:41 Now the USS Bonomi shard was in dry dock for repairs. One would imagine, did that have anything to do with the way this fire started doing that? Speaker 1: 04:50 Yeah. You know, there's been some speculation in terms of, you know, someone working on the ship and there was a spark that th th that a fire, I had a chance to ask the Admiral that, um, and he said, no, it basically that th the crews reported fire, um, from a different location. They, they, they, they, they had sort of felt the heat there. Now, another interesting thing, Maureen, that officials are definitely keeping a close eye on, uh, inside that ship is about a million gallons of fuel. Now, right now, officials say that there's about two deck separating the fire, uh, from that fuel, but they say they're planning for every worst case scenario, but they're going to do everything they can to make sure that fire gets nowhere near the fuel. We do know that there are no explosive explosive ordinances on that ship. Uh, there are also no aircraft onboard that ship. It usually carries helicopter type aircraft. Speaker 2: 05:32 What is the ship normally used for Speaker 1: 05:34 Maureen? It's an amphibious assault ship. Now, I guess, to the layman, it sort of looks like an aircraft carrier. But what I've learned is that actually, instead of taking, uh, airplanes, uh, usually transports things like helicopters or things like Osprey. So a very, very big ship though. Speaker 2: 05:48 Does the Navy estimate they'll be able to put the fire out? Do they have an estimate? Speaker 1: 05:53 There is no estimate of when that fire is going to be put out. I mean, I, I sort of asked them, you know, do you guys even think that the ship can be saved? We saw the San Diego fire rescue chief, uh, yesterday saying that the ship could burn all the way down to the water level. A Navy officials hoping that it's not the case. They say they're doing everything they can right now to possibly save that ship. Now it's going to be unclear if it's able to be saved until the fire is completely out and they can do a full investigation. Speaker 2: 06:15 I've been speaking with KPBS reporter, Matt Hoffman, just out of a news conference about the fire aboard the USS bono. I'm your shard, Matt. Thank you. Thanks Maureen.

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As the fire continued to burn Monday and the smell of the blaze spread across San Diego County, health officials warned of unhealthy air quality for sensitive groups such as the elderly, children, and people with lung and heart disease.
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