Group aids residents impacted by USS Bonhomme Richard fire

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SAN DIEGO — A new coalition is helping San Diego residents who claim their health suffered as a result of the USS Bonhomme Richard fire file lawsuits against the U.S. Navy.

The group, Naval Ship Fire Community Advocates, made the announcement Wednesday via a Zoom conference. The committee is made up of attorneys and community members.

“Justice for having to sacrifice our health due to our skin color, our race, linguistic isolation, income status and for the zip code we live in,” said Sandy Naranjo, an environmental leader. 

When the blaze broke out aboard the warship at Naval Base San Diego on July 12, residents in the neighboring communities of Barrio Logan, Logan Heights and National City were forced to take cover, shutting their windows and closing their doors in mid-summer heat. The smoke was reportedly smelled as far away as East County. At least 400 households received hotel vouchers so they could have some temporary relief. 

“With this fire, I could not breathe. I had to leave the city. I literally had to get in my truck and drive north,” said Josie Talamantez, who lives in Logan Heights. 

“We are aware of today’s meeting and look forward to continuing to work with our San Diego community partners,” Lt Cmdr. Nicole Schewegman said in a statement.

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