Fire that killed 2 on a cargo ship in New Jersey is out after nearly a week, officials say
Jul 11, 2023, 9:22 AM
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Crews extinguished the intensely burning fire aboard a cargo ship docked in New Jersey after nearly a week and are now beginning their investigation into the blaze that killed two firefighters, officials said Tuesday.
“We can officially declare the fire is out,” Coast Guard Capt. Zeita Merchant, the captain of the Port of New York and New Jersey, said during a news conference in Port Newark.
It could be a while before officials know what led to the blaze that started late Wednesday and left two Newark firefighters dead and five others injured.
Authorities are now also beginning a salvage operation for the Grande Costa d’Avorio, which could take up to two months, Merchant said.
Manifests showed there were no lithium ion battery vehicles onboard when the ship reached Newark, according to Bethann Rooney the port director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
However, it did have electric vehicles onboard when it reached Baltimore, where they were offloaded, she said.
The ship had taken on used vehicles in Newark and was destined to do the same in Providence, Rhode Island, she said, before heading to West Africa.
The National Transportation Safety Board has warned about the possible dangers of electric vehicle battery fires, a hazard that stems from thermal runaway, a chemical reaction that causes uncontrolled battery temperature and pressure increases.
She described the hold of the ship as “essentially a parking garage” with ramps and different levels. She said the cars onboard had “but a spit” of gasoline in their tanks and said it was car components and other parts that were burning.
Killed in the blaze were Newark firefighters Augusto “Augie” Acabou and Wayne “Bear” Brooks Jr., whom officials praised for their bravery. Funeral services for the men were set for later this week.
The fire broke out about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. About an hour later, there was a mayday call when two firefighters became trapped inside the ship. Rescue workers rescued Acabou from the ship before midnight and he was later taken a hospital, where he died Thursday morning. Brooks died early Thursday morning after he was recovered. Five other firefighters were injured.