One day after a senior Iranian military official suggested that a blaze aboard a U.S. Navy amphib was a sign of divine punishment, at least seven boats caught fire at a shipyard at the Iranian port of Bushehr, according to state media.
The fire had a boost from high winds and the fiberglass material of the boat’s hulls, according to emergency management official Jahangir Dehghan. With assistance from military firefighters, the blaze was extinguished within about five hours, according to local media. The cause is not yet known and is under investigation.
The site was identified by state media as the Delvar Kachti Bouchehr boatyard. Bystander photos of the smoke plume suggest that it is located near Iran’s only nuclear power plant, which recently completed an overhaul and restoration project.
It is the latest in a string of mysterious disasters affecting Iranian facilities in recent weeks, including a fire on June 2 at the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz. Iranian media have raised the possibility that the Natanz incident could have been an act of sabotage by Israeli or American clandestine operators.
Multiple ships burning in Bushehr.
— Firas Maksad (@FirasMaksad) July 15, 2020
A powerful fire broke out in the port of Iranian Bushehr.
Fire covered from three to seven ships.
— Saad (@SaadAmiskin) July 15, 2020
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Dramatic video purporting to show the blaze shows thick black smoke billowing from the scene at the port of Bushehr – as men desperately try to put out the flames.
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— Mahmoud Aljazaery (@MahmoudJazairi) July 15, 2020
— AlSharqiya TV – ???? ??????? (@alsharqiyatv) July 15, 2020
— Heshmat Alavi (@HeshmatAlavi) July 15, 2020
Other recent major fires in Iran include a blaze at a petrochemical plant in Khuzestan on Sunday and an explosion at an oxygen plant in the city of Baqershahr on July 7. On June 30, an explosion at a clinic near Tehran killed 19, and on June 26, a large explosion occurred at a missile production plant outside the Parchin weapons testing base east of Tehran.
The ship fires followed one day after provocative public comments from the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), who described the ongoing fire aboard the amphib USS Bonhomme Richard as an act of divine punishment for American “crimes.”
“What has happened in the US [this week], particularly the warship incident, is a result of the US government’s action, behavior, and crimes,” said Brigadier General Esmaeil Qa’ani. “This incident that was a response to your crimes has taken place by your own elements. God would punish you with your own hands.”
Gen. Qa’ani took up his post after American forces assassinated his predecessor, Qasem Suleimani, who was widely believed to be the driving force behind Iran’s involvement in the Iraqi, Yemeni and Syrian conflicts.
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