Blaze aboard cargo ship at Port Newark that killed 2 firefighters finally out, Coast Guard says
New York Daily News July 11, 2023
(Tribune News Service) — The massive fire sparked onboard an Italian cargo ship docked in Port Newark was finally extinguished following a days-long effort, during which two New Jersey firefighters were killed, according to the Coast Guard.
“At this time, those concerted efforts have gotten us to a place this morning where we can officially declare the fire is out,” Capt. Zeita Merchant told reporters on Tuesday.
“While this is a huge milestone and something that we can celebrate, we must not lose sight of the fact that this is merely the first step of a long process, as we now need to consider the salvage and transfer of the vessel, a process that can be hazardous and complex, as well,” she continued. “Additionally, and more importantly, we are transitioning to a phase of determining the cause of the fire and related fatalities.”
Authorities estimate the salvage process could last up to two months.
The blaze broke out Wednesday night on the 10th deck of the Grande Costa d’Avorio as workers finished loading hundreds of new and used vehicles destined for West Africa with a stop in Providence, R.I., along the way. It took first responders nearly a week to contain and put out the flames, which were only further fueled by the exploding gas tanks of the cars and trucks aboard the cargo ship.
“The deck of the ship is essentially a parking garage,” Port Director Beth Rooney told ABC New York. “What we had burning were components and parts of cars.”
Their efforts were also slowed due a lack of niche training, with Newark Fire Chief Rufus Jackson explaining that firefighters in the area have not had experience battling a blaze aboard a cargo ship like the Grande Costa d’Avorio. The ship’s owner, Grimaldi Group, ultimately hired Gallagher Marine Systems, a specially trained group of first responders, to assist with firefighting and salvage operations.
Augusto Acabou, 45, and Wayne Brooks, 49, of the Newark Fire Department were identified as the officers who were killed by the fire. Acabou was a nine-year veteran of the department while Brooks had served for nearly 17 years. Their funerals are scheduled for Thursday and Friday, respectively.
Five other firefighters — three from Newark and two from Elizabeth — were hurt in the blaze.
Sources told CBS New York the fire burned for five days and that investigators were able to gain access to the ship on Monday.
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