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US naval base fire extinguished but cause still unknown

The USS Bonhomme Richard was nearing the end of a two-year upgrade when the blaze broke out on Sunday.

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A fire on the USS Bonhomme Richard in California has finally been extinguished (Gregory Bull/AP)

A fire on the USS Bonhomme Richard in California has finally been extinguished (Gregory Bull/AP)

A fire on the USS Bonhomme Richard in California has finally been extinguished (Gregory Bull/AP)

A fire on a ship at a US naval base in San Diego has been extinguished after burning for four days and injuring more than 60 people, authorities said.

Rear Admiral Philip E Sobeck called the last 24 hours of the firefight aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard “amazing”, with the blaze reaching up to 650 degrees Celsius in parts of the vessel.

He said: “The ship can be repaired, whether or not it will be repaired, that will be determined.”

It could cost an estimated 4 billion dollars (£3.2b) to replace the ship if it cannot be salvaged.

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The ship had been undergoing maintenance work (Denis Poroy/AP))

The ship had been undergoing maintenance work (Denis Poroy/AP))

AP/PA Images

The ship had been undergoing maintenance work (Denis Poroy/AP))

The Bonhomme Richard was nearing the end of a two-year upgrade estimated to cost 250 million dollars (£198m) when the fire broke out on Sunday. About 160 sailors had moved on board, and all were safely evacuated.

The flames sent up a huge plume of dark smoke visible around San Diego.

The US Navy investigation will examine various possibilities of what might have sparked the blaze in the ship’s lower storage area, where cardboard boxes, rags and other maintenance supplies were stored.

It also will look at what caused two explosions on board after the blaze was reported.

The ship has the capacity to deploy and land helicopters, smaller boats and amphibious vehicles.

PA