Two Newark firefighters were killed responding to a deadly fire in a container ship at Port Newark on Wednesday night. Five other firefighters — three from Newark and two from Elizabeth — were injured.
Wayne Brooks, Jr., 49, and Augusto Acabou, 45, were identified as the firefighters who died. Brooks had spent 16 years as a Newark firefighter, while Acabou had nearly a decade of service to the city.
The fire broke out around 9:30 p.m., as workers were finishing loading about 1,200 vehicles onto the Italian-flagged ship Grande Costa D’avorio for transportation, according to Grimaldi Deep Sea, the ship’s operator. The first Mayday alert signaling that firefighters had become trapped was sent about an hour later, according to a timeline released by city officials. Acabou and Brooks were both located and pulled out of the fire by fellow firefighters. They were declared dead at University Hospital, Newark in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Newark Fire Chief Rufus Jackson said at a news conference Thursday morning the department’s firefighters are not trained specifically in fighting fires aboard ships, making the situation even more dangerous. He added that the department has seen heavy turnover in its ranks since the pandemic, and said a lack of experience among firefighters on-scene may have amplified the risks.
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