Cargo Ship Fire in Port Newark Officially Extinguished

Emergency personnel battle against a fire aboard the Italian-flagged Grande Costa d'Avorio cargo ship at the Port of Newark, Friday, July 7, 2023, in Newark, N.J. The cargo ship burned for a third day Friday at the port after a fire that claimed the lives of two Newark firefighters Augusto "Augie" Acabou and Wayne "Bear" Brooks Jr. , and exposed gaps in the ability of fire crews to respond to emergencies on hulking container ships. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Emergency personnel battle against a fire aboard the Italian-flagged Grande Costa d’Avorio cargo ship at the Port of Newark, Friday, July 7, 2023, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

OAN’s Taylor Tinsley
12:55 PM – Tuesday, July 11, 2023

A cargo ship fire that killed two New Jersey firefighters in Port Newark last week has officially been extinguished. 


During a press conference on Tuesday, the Coast Guard said investigators will now break down the ship for scrap to figure out what caused the massive blaze. 

“Overall the salvage process could easily be one to two months,” said Coast Guard Captain Zeita Merchant.

The motor vessel was carrying about 1,200 vehicles that were to be refurbished and sold in Africa. There was no report of any cargo containing lithium ion batteries.

“The superstructure that you’re looking at of the ship is essentially a parking garage with ramps and levels in which cars are parked,” port director Beth Rooney said. “So what we had burning were components and parts of cars… before they’re shipped for transport the gasoline tanks all but have a spit in them  in order to get them off the ship, batteries are disconnected etc.”

The fire took six days to put out. It claimed the lives of two heroic firefighters that became trapped on board and later died at the hospital.

45-year old Augusto “Augie” Acabou and 49-year old Wayne “Bear” Brooks were both Newark Firefighters assigned to Engine 16. Acabou served for over nine years and Brooks was a veteran with the department for more than 16 years. Both are expected to be laid to rest later this week.

During a separate press conference on Tuesday, the Newark Firefighters Union called attention to the neglect that they say they’ve endured under the current administration. Officials emphasized the department is dangerously understaffed and currently has 80 vacancies.

“The bottom line is this fire department has been neglected,” said Newark Fire Union President Michael Giunta. “We are not adequately trained to meet the demands of the City of Newark… the only thing that saves firefighters are more firefighters.”

Giunta said when he started the job 24 years ago the City of Newark had over 600 firefighters and now they’re down to just under 400. He also said their large capacity fire boat wouldn’t start on the day of the Port Newark fire and shed light on outdated equipment.

Overall, teams were not adequately trained for last week’s cargo fire. Union officials want to sit down with Governor Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) in partnership with the mayor to conduct a joint safety audit and look at all deficiencies within the department.

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