Residents affected by ship fire smoke given hotel vouchers


SAN DIEGO — The Port of San Diego offered hotel vouchers toresidents living in areas with air pollution from the burning Bonhomme Richard, and all four hundred hotel rooms that were offered were filled within a day of the announcement.

The hotel voucher program provided two-night stays at five different local hotels to residents in zip codes 91950, 92113 and 92102. 

Port Commissioner Robert Valderrama, the National City representative on the board, said he knew something needed to be done for residents who were struggling with bad air from the fire, which began raging on Sunday.

“When the residents called in and got a reservation, they were so happy they didn’t know who to thank,” said Valderrama. “They were saying, ‘I’m stressed out.’ I mean when this thing started it was a heat wave. They were locked in. They couldn’t go outside and so they just said, ‘We didn’t know what to do and we are so thankful.'”

The hotel stays are a temporary solution, Valderrama said, but that doesn’t mean the air pollution problem is over.

“Most of these communities –they’re bound by Interstate 5 — so they’re facing an air quality issue every day and this just made it compounded, so even though it looks like looking at the news the smoke is no longer coming out, the Navy is still monitoring it, looking at hot spots to see if it doesn’t fire back up, so it’s not done yet and our community has been severely impacted,” said Valderrama.

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