Tragic Fire Claims Lives of Firefighters at Port Newark

NEWARK, N.J. — Tragedy struck at Port Newark on Wednesday night when a blaze broke out on a docked cargo ship, resulting in the death of two brave firefighters. The fire, which began deep inside the ship carrying over a thousand vehicles, left five others injured.

Upon arriving at approximately 9:30 p.m., firefighters were met with a harrowing scene on the 10th floor of the cargo ship. Already engulfed in flames were five to seven vehicles. Despite their courageous efforts, the fire rapidly spread to the 11th and 12th floors. Intense heat forced firefighters to retreat, resulting in the unfortunate loss of two of their own lives.

The search for the missing firefighters presented initial challenges but outside rescue companies from across the state were summoned to assist. Ultimately, Augusto “Augie” Acabou, 45, and Wayne “Bear” Brooks Jr., 49, were located and extracted from the structure, but regrettably, they did not survive.

Five firefighters, including three from Newark and two from Elizabeth, sustained injuries, predominantly smoke inhalation. Although their identities and conditions were not released, it is anticipated that they will recover.

Preliminary findings suggest that the fire originated on the Italian-flagged Grande Costa d’Avorio, a vessel constructed in 2011, which had recently arrived from the Port of Baltimore. The ship was in the process of loading over 1,200 cars, vans, and trucks destined for West Africa when the incident occurred.

This devastating event serves as a reminder of the immense courage displayed by firefighters who put their lives on the line to protect others. Our thoughts and condolences go out to the families and colleagues of those who lost their lives in this tragic accident.

Company Statement

The incident occurred when the crew of the ship immediately implemented their fire suppression procedures, and local firefighting services were promptly alerted. Thanks to their swift response, the fire was successfully contained and controlled. It is important to note that there were no electric cars or hazardous cargo on board, and no fuel spills were detected. Furthermore, the ship’s stability has not been compromised.

Mourning for Fallen Firefighters

In a statement, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy expressed his deep sorrow for the loss of two Newark firefighters who tragically sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. The Mayor of Newark, Ras Baraka, also commented on the tragedy, highlighting the danger that firefighters face when entering burning structures.

Unique Challenges for Newark Firefighters

Chief Jackson explained that shipboard firefighting presents a unique set of challenges that Newark firefighters are not typically accustomed to. While they have undergone previous training on ships, it has primarily been on vessels with compartments and living quarters, not on a ship like the one involved in this incident. Despite this unfamiliarity, Chief Jackson commended the bravery and dedication of his team, emphasizing their willingness to put themselves on the line for others.

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