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Navy ship fire causing air quality problems in San Diego

USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) Fire
Posted at 8:31 PM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-13 23:31:06-04

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) - A fire on the USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego started Sunday morning and as of Monday afternoon, continues to burn, adding smoke to the sky and raising concerns over air quality in San Diego.

Related: USS Bonhomme Richard fire: 57 treated for injuries after fire erupts aboard Naval Base San Diego ship

Bill Brick is the Chief of Monitoring and Technical Services Division at the Air Pollution Control District and said there are concerns in some areas but not everywhere. He said they have received reports of people smelling the smoke as far away as Oceanside and Escondido. According to Brick, those people who are farther away may be able to smell the smoke but the particulate matter is less concentrated, so it should not pose a health risk.

He said the people who should be aware of health concerns are those nearby the fire who end up directly in the path of the smoke due to wind and also those with prior health concerns such as asthma, lung or heart problems. He said if anyone is close enough to smell the smoke and also gets irritated eyes, they should also be aware that there could be health risks. For any of those people, he advises to avoid exercise, go inside and close the windows to avoid breathing in that air.

Brick also said that a problem with this fire is they don’t know exactly what has burned. While the Navy has said they are still within EPA standards, Brick said the focus has been on fighting the fire so it has been hard for them to determine everything that has burned. Brick said they did take samples of the air to see if anything toxic is in the air, but those results will not come back for a few days, so he advises everyone to use caution while the fire still burns.