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24 sailors treated after fire on US aircraft carrier

world Updated: May 24, 2008 07:29 IST

A nuclear powered US aircraft carrier caught fire while sailing in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of South America that left 24 sailors in need of medical attention, the Navy said on Friday.

The large blaze erupted on Thursday in the rear of the USS George Washington before quickly spreading through a cableway and causing extreme heat before it was extinguished, the Navy said.

One sailor was being treated for first degree burns while 23 received medical attention for heat stress, the Navy said, adding there were no serious injuries.

The $5-billion ship, which came into service in 1992, retained complete propulsion as there was no damage to the large- deck carrier's two nuclear reactors, the Navy said.

"There's only one word for the effort this team made to combat the fire and that is heroic," the ship's captain, Dave Dykhoff, said. "The effectiveness of the damage control effort also clearly demonstrated the quality of our training, procedures and systems."

The George Washington continued on its route to San Diego, California to complete its summer mission of relieving the USS Kitty Hawk carrier, the Navy said.