Newark Harbor fire: 2 firefighters dead, 5 injured in ship fire in NJ

PORT NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) — Two firefighters were trapped and killed while fighting a fire on a ship docked in Port Newark on Wednesday night.

The fire broke out at Export Street and Marsh Street in Newark around 9:30 p.m.

Newark firefighters were dispatched to Port Newark following a report of multiple vehicle fires on a ship.

The fire started on the 10th floor as crews and local stevedores were moving cars, vans and trucks.

Upon arrival, firefighters discovered the fire, which had broken out in five to seven cars and spread to the 11th and 12th decks of the ship, named the Grande Costa d’Avorio.

“Members attempted to extinguish the fire but were pushed back by the intense heat. Two firefighters were lost while conducting the operation to retreat from the structure,” said Newark Fire Chief Rufus Jackson.

The firefighters were eventually placed inside the larger vessel and pronounced dead.

The victims were identified as Augusto “Aggie” Agabu, 45, and Wayne “Pierce” Brooks Jr., 49.

Agabu is a nine-year veteran of the Newark Fire Department.

Both were assigned to Engine 16.

“I want the world to know that we lost two of our best men in the city of Newark, who gave their lives without hesitation, probably not thinking that morning they would be fighting a fire in a fleet of 5,000 cars,” Newark Mayor Ross Baraka said at a press conference following the tragedy.

The last time a Newark firefighter was killed on the job was in 2007.

As firefighters lined up on either side to pay their respects, the mayor vividly described the bodies being unloaded from the hoist.

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“That image will forever be imprinted in my mind as to how dangerous this job is,” Mayor Baraka said.

Newark Fire Chief Rufus Jackson said Newark firefighters are trained to fight fires on cruise ships and other vessels with living quarters, but not vehicles.

“It’s definitely a personal fire for us,” chairman Rufus Jackson said.

Steven McGill, a former Jersey City fire chief explained the situation:

According to Chief Jackson, five firefighters were injured while fighting the fire.

Three of the victims were from the Newark Fire Department, and two were from the Elizabeth Fire Department.

They were taken to University Hospital in Newark for treatment.

As thousands of vehicles were on board the ship, firefighters were working till early morning to put out the fire.

There are no electric cars or dangerous goods on board. The ship is not spilling fuel or in danger of sinking.

This vessel normally operates between America and West Africa. It has over 1,200 new and used vehicles and 157 containers.

During the press conference, Mayor Baraka said the city will have a “long conversation” with the Port Authority about firefighting at the agency’s locations.

“It’s going to be a long conversation until we have a real solution on what to do as we move forward,” he said.

“This was a fire on Port Authority property. They call us when there’s a big structural fire. We come out to help them put this fire out. Obviously, it became an issue that they were not capable of. We had to take full control to deal with what was going on.”

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Following news of the fire, Governor Bill Murphy issued a statement: “Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the loss of two Newark firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Tommy and I send our deepest condolences to their families and loved ones, and pray for a full and speedy recovery for those injured. . This tragedy is a painful reminder of the dangers our firefighters face and their remarkable courage.”

The Grimaldi group also issued a statement saying, “The Italian flag vessel was completing the loading operations of various rolling units (cars, vans, trucks) when a fire broke out on deck n 10, attended by local stevedores and crew. The ship’s crew immediately initiated fire-fighting procedures on board.” activated, the local fire service was alerted, and their immediate response was instrumental in bringing the fire under control. Unfortunately, the Grimaldi Deepwater Area was notified during firefighting operations. Two firefighters lost their lives. The company’s thoughts, prayers and sympathies are with their families and crew at this time. . At this time, it is unknown how the fire started, but the company will conduct a full investigation in close cooperation with all relevant authorities.”


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While they were working on extinguishing the fire, the fire broke out

The fire broke out in five to seven cars on the 11th and 12th floors of the ship, which carries around 5,000 vehicles.

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