Two firefighters killed battling cargo ship fire in New Jersey

Grande Costa D'Avorio

Two firefighters were killed while battling a fire aboard a cargo ship docked in Port Newark, New Jersey, on Wednesday night.

The fire broke out around 9:30 p.m. on the 10th floor of the Grande Costa D’Avorio, an Italian-flagged vessel carrying thousands of vehicles after it arrived in Port Newark from Baltimore. The flames quickly spread to the 11th and 12th floors, and as firefighters were pushed back by the intense heat, two of them were lost.

Firefighters were initially unable to find their lost colleagues, and outside rescue companies from around the state were called in. They were eventually found and removed from the structure, but unfortunately, they lost their lives.

The two heroes who perished in the blaze were Newark firefighters Augusto Acabou and Wayne Brooks Jr. All day Thursday, flowers and food were left at the Engine 16 firehouse where they worked and dedicated their lives to keeping the city safe.

Three other firefighters were injured in the blaze, but they are expected to recover.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with our brothers and sisters of the Newark Fire Department and the families of the two Firefighters who sacrificed their lives last night while battling a blaze in the Port of Newark,” said the New Jersey Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association’s Facebook page. “Please also keep in your prayers our two brothers from Elizabeth Local 9 who were injured in the fire and are recovering in the hospital. Yesterday was a terrible night for the New Jersey Fire Service. We will keep you apprised as more information becomes available.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said the loss of the two firefighters is a tragedy for the city and for all firefighters who know what it means to go into a burning structure.

“This is a unique service that we’re in,” he said. “We love what we do. We love each other and we protect each other. It’s unfortunate when we have loss. This is a tragedy.”

The fire was still burning early Thursday morning, but firefighters were making progress in extinguishing it.

The Newark Fire Department, the Coast Guard, and multiple state and area agencies are continuing their response to a fire in Port Newark on the vehicle carrier ship, Grande Costa D’Avorio.

The Grande Costa D’Avorio is an Italian-flagged vessel operating under the Grimaldi Group’s Grimaldi Deep Sea company.

The vessel’s crew was loading vehicles onto the massive cargo ship when the fire broke out, the company said in a statement.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of the two firefighters,” the company said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends.”

The fire is a reminder of the dangers that firefighters face every day. They put their lives on the line to protect our communities, and we are all grateful for their service.

Coast Guard watch standers at Sector New York received an initial call of a fire on the multi-level vessel at 9:38 PM.

A Coast Guard response boat out of Station New York, along with prevention and response teams, joined multiple area agencies as part of a unified response to the ongoing incident.

“Coast Guard is actively involved with the joint response and focused on the safety of responders, as well as assessing overall impact on the maritime transportation system and the environment,” said Capt. Zeita Merchant, the commander of Coast Guard Sector New York and captain of the port of New York and New Jersey.

“Our thoughts are with Newark Fire Department, our partner agencies and the families of the firefighters lost during this response. These responders are working in inherently dangerous hazardous conditions when incidents of this nature occur, and their loss is truly tragic,” said Merchant.

Responders continue to fight the fire and a determination of environmental impact will be made once it is under control.

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