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2 New Jersey firefighters die battling blaze deep in a ship carrying 5,000 cars

VIDEO | 02:01
2 New Jersey firefighters die battling fire on cargo ship

A New Jersey fire chief says two firefighters were killed battling a blaze that broke out deep inside a cargo ship docked at the port in Newark.

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Two firefighters were killed battling a blaze that began when cars caught fire deep inside a cargo ship carrying 5,000 cars at the port in Newark, N.J., the city’s fire chief said Thursday.

Firefighters found five to seven vehicles already ablaze when they reached the 10th floor of the cargo ship at Port Newark about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. The blaze quickly extended to the 11th and 12th floors, and as firefighters were pushed back by the intense heat, two of them were lost, Newark Fire Chief Rufus Jackson told a news conference.

Firefighters weren’t initially able to find their colleagues, and outside rescue companies from around the state were called in. Augie Acabou, 45, and Wayne Brooks, 49, were found and taken out from the ship, but they died, Jackson said.

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“Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the loss of two Newark firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement. “This tragedy is a painful reminder of the dangers our firefighters face and their remarkable courage.”

Three Newark firefighters and two from Elizabeth, N.J., were treated for injuries, including smoke inhalation. All were expected to recover, but their names and details on their conditions were not disclosed.

Federal investigators recover a video recorded by a victim of the Conception boat fire tragedy as the 34 people trapped below deck tried to escape.

Dec. 22, 2022

Marine traffic trackers show that the Grande Costa D’Avorio cargo ship, which was built in 2011, had arrived from the Port of Baltimore several days earlier.

Mayor Ras Baraka called the loss of the two firefighters traumatic for all of Newark.

Jackson said that shipboard firefighting was a unique skill and that Newark firefighters did not commonly face that kind of situation. He said they had trained on a ship before, but it was a vessel that had compartments and living quarters, not a cargo ship.

“Although this is a difficult fire, a different type of fire, they’re still willing to put themselves on the line for others,” the chief said of his squad. “It’s unfortunate when we have loss. This is a tragedy. This is something that I as a chief never want to face, but we have to be there — we have to be strong for the family at this point.”

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