Two Firefighters Killed, Six Others Injured In Cargo Ship Fire In Port Newark, NJ

Unified Command established for vessel fire in Newark, New Jersey

July 6, 2023

By: U.S. Coast Guard

NEWARK, NJ–The Coast Guard, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Newark Fire Department, and Gallagher Marine Systems, the representative for the ship operator, have established a Unified Command in Port Newark, supported by a host of federal, state and local emergency response agencies. The Unified Command was established to continue its response to the fire aboard the cargo vessel Grande Costa D’Avorio, which caught fire Wednesday night around 9:30 PM.

The Unified Command’s operational priorities are ensuring the safety of the public and first responders, conducting fire suppression, protecting the environment, and ensuring any economic or operational activities in the port area are minimally affected.

Currently, firefighting crews are working to extinguish the fire, both from the pier, and from waterside. Crews are working to gain access to the upper decks of the vessel, which is believed to be the primary source of the ongoing fire.

Unfortunately, as of Thursday afternoon, there have been two fatalities and six injuries sustained due to responding to the fire aboard the vessel. Air quality monitoring is being conducted by the Newark Fire Department and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to ensure safe working conditions and public safety.

“On behalf of the Unified Command, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to the families and colleagues of the two firefighters who tragically lost their lives, and those injured during the response,” said Capt. Zeita Merchant, Captain of the Port of New York and Jersey. “We continue to work closely with our partner agencies and neighboring jurisdictions. Together, we are pooling our resources, expertise, and equipment to enhance the safety of all responders and maximize the effectiveness of our response efforts.”

The vessel was completing cargo operations of loading automobiles on to the vessel when the fire began. The crew of the vessel immediately activated the on- board fire suppression procedures while the local fire department was alerted.

The vessel is reportedly carrying 1,200 vehicles and 157 containers that were scheduled to be exported. There are reportedly no electric vehicles or hazardous cargo aboard.

At this time, the cause of the fire is under investigation. A formal investigation will be conducted to identify what caused the fire and all parties at the federal, state, and local levels as well as the owners are working closely together during this process.

The next update is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Friday.

NEWARK — The Newark Fire Department, the Coast Guard, and multiple state and area agencies are continuing their response to a fire in Port Newark on the vehicle carrier ship, Grande Costa D’Avorio.

Coast Guard watch standers at Sector New York received an initial call of a fire on the multi-level vessel at 9:38 PM.

A Coast Guard response boat out of Station New York, along with prevention and response teams, joined multiple area agencies as part of a unified response to the ongoing incident.

There have been no reports of crew members injuries on the ship, however two Newark firefighters were fatally injured while responding to the fire.

“Coast Guard is actively involved with the joint response and focused on the safety of responders, as well as assessing overall impact on the maritime transportation system and the environment,” said Capt. Zeita Merchant, the commander of Coast Guard Sector New York and captain of the port of New York and New Jersey. “Our thoughts are with Newark Fire Department, our partner agencies and the families of the firefighters lost during this response. These responders are working in inherently dangerous hazardous conditions when incidents of this nature occur, and their loss is truly tragic.”

Responders continue to fight the fire and a determination of environmental impact will be made once it is under control.

By: Newark Department of Public Safety

Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Public Safety Director Fritz G. Fragé, and Fire Chief Rufus L. Jackson announce with deep regret the passing of two Newark Firefighters, Augusto Acabou, 45, and Wayne Brooks, Jr., 49, who each died while fighting a 2-alarm fire at Port Newark that began Wednesday, July 5, 2023, and continued into Thursday, July 6, 2023.

Firefighter Acabou served the Newark Fire Division for 9 ½ years and was assigned to Engine 16, Tour 1, and Firefighter Brooks served 16 ½ years. He was assigned to Ladder 4, Tour 1.

At approximately 9:25 p.m. on Wednesday, July 5, 2023, Newark Firefighters responded to Corbin Street and Marsh Street on a call of 6-7 vehicles on fire on the Grande Costa D’Avorio, a cargo ship docked at the Port. Firefighters located the fire at Berth No. 18, level 10 with the fire extending to level 12 of the ship.

Along with the tragic deaths of two of Newark’s Bravest, three other members were injured during this incident. Newark Fire Captain Dave Rogers, who suffered a burn to his foot; Newark Fire Captain Michael Spadavecchia, who suffered from heat exhaustion; and Newark Fire Captain Richard Cooper, who suffered respiratory distress and possible smoke inhalation.

Members of the Elizabeth Fire Department who suffered injuries during the fire include Firefighter W. White and Firefighter J. Manes. Both men suffered smoke inhalation.

Director Fragé is grateful for the courageous mutual aid responses from Port Authority Police, Jersey City Fire Department, FDNY Special Operations, Bayonne Fire Department, Elizabeth Fire Department, Hackensack Fire Department, Union County Rescue, Hudson County Rescue, University Hospital EMS, South Orange EMS, Millburn Fire Department, and several other agencies.

Statement from Governor Murphy on the Passing of Two Newark Firefighters 

“Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the loss of two Newark firefighters, who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Tammy and I extend our deepest condolences to their families and loved ones, and we pray that those injured have a full and speedy recovery. This tragedy is a painful reminder of the dangers our firefighters face and their remarkable courage.”

Posted by: Newark Fire Department Facebook Page:

Today, we gather to honor the courageous lives of two remarkable individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

FF Augusto Acabou and FF Wayne Brooks Jr.

To the families of Wayne and Augusto, we offer our deepest condolences and unyielding support. Your loved ones will forever be remembered as guardians of our community, and we are forever indebted to them and to you for sharing them with us.

Rest in peace brothers, know that your sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Rest in peace Augie

Rest in peace Big Bear

Drone operators from the Elizabeth Police Department capture video of the 692-foot cargo vessel Grande Costa D’Avorio, moored at the Port Newark Marine Terminal, July 6, 2023. Crews from the Elizabeth Police Department were able to deploy a drone capable of recording thermal imaging of the fire. (Video courtesy of the Elizabeth Police Department)

The Coast Guard, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Newark Fire Department, and multiple state and area agencies respond to a fire in Port Newark on the vehicle carrier ship, Grande Costa D’Avorio. Fire fighting crews are working to extinguish the fire both from the pier and from FDNY fireboats. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Dan Henry)