Augusto Acabou and Wayne Brooks death: Firefighters killed in Port Newark cargo ship fire

Augusto Acabou and Wayne Brooks died.

Augusto Acabou and Wayne Brooks died. (Source: Facebook)

Wayne Brooks and Augusto Acabou, two firefighters died while attempting to put out a fire that started Wednesday night on a sizable cargo ship that was berthed in Port Newark. Keep reading to know more about it in detail.


Augusto Acabou and Wayne Brooks death:

On a ship anchored in Port Newark on Wednesday evening, two firefighters died after becoming trapped while battling a fire.

Around 9:30 p.m., a fire started at the intersection of Export Street and Marsh Street in Newark.

Following a report of many vehicles on fire on a ship in Port Newark, Newark firefighters were sent to the scene.

The crew and nearby stevedores were shifting vehicles, vans, and trucks when the fire broke out on the 10th deck.

Firefighters responded to the scene and discovered the fire, which started in five to seven automobiles and quickly spread to the Grande Costa D’Avorio’s 11th and 12th floors.

Newark Fire Chief Rufus Jackson said,

“Members made an attempt to extinguish the fire but got pushed back by the intense heat. Two firefighters were lost while conducting this action of backing out of the structure.”

The firefighters were finally found inside the huge ship and were later declared deceased.

These victims were identified as Augusto “Augie” Acabou, 45, and Wayne “Bears” Brooks Jr., 49.

Acabou was a nine-year veteran of the Newark Fire Department and was assigned to Engine 16. Brooks worked for 16.5 years and was placed on Ladder 4.

At a press conference after the tragedy, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said,

“I just want the world to know that we just lost two of our best here in the city of Newark, who without hesitation, gave their lives and probably that morning didn’t think that they will be fighting a fire on a ship of 5000 cars.”

The mayor gave a detailed account of the firefighters lining up on either side to pay their respects as the remains were lowered from a pulley.

Mayor Baraka said,

“That image will forever be stamped in my mind for how dangerous this job is.”

According to Rufus Jackson, the chief of the Newark Fire Department, the city’s firefighters have received training to put out fires on cruise ships and other vessels with living quarters, but not ones that carry automobiles.

Chief Rufus Jackson said,

“This was definitely a unique fire for us.” 

Rufus said during a press conference that numerous specialised rescue companies from New Jersey and the state of New York came and helped with primary and secondary searches to try to locate the unaccounted for firefighters, which were eventually located and extricated from the building.

Rufus added that the fire became so intense that numerous rescue companies were called to assist.

Five firemen suffered injuries while battling the flames, according to Chief Jackson.

Two from the Elizabeth Fire Department and three from the Newark Fire Department were among the victims. For medical attention, they were taken to University Hospital in Newark.

Firefighters continued to combat the blaze far into the early morning hours since the ship was carrying thousands of vehicles.

On the ship, there were no dangerous materials or electric cars. There are no fuel leaks or sinking threats on board the ship.

Typically, this ship travels between the United States and West Africa. It transports 157 containers and more than 1,200 new and used autos.

The Port Authority and the city will have “a long conversation” regarding firefighting at the agency’s locations, Mayor Baraka stated during the press conference.

He said,

“That’s a long conversation that we’re going to have from now until we get some real resolution to what needs to be done as we move forward.”

“This is a fire that took place on Port Authority property. They call us when there are big structural fires, we come out to assist them in extinguishing these fires. Obviously, this became an issue where they just didn’t have the capacity at all to deal with what was going on, so we had to take full control.”

Following that, Baraka emphasised the “many acts of bravery” he had seen during the fatal fire, calling the entire situation “very traumatic.”

Governor Phil Murphy issued a statement after learning of the fire that read:

“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.”


About the Ship

According to information obtained by CBS New York, the Grande Costa D’Avorio ship made a two-day voyage from Baltimore. It can handle more than 47,000 tonnes, and at the moment, it was hauling more than 1,000 automobiles.

The Grimaldi Group, one of Italy’s largest ship owners, built the vessel in 2011 and it sails under the Italian flag. The business specialises in shipping containers and the ocean transportation of automobiles.

Additionally, The Grimaldi Group issued a statement that read:

“The Italian-flag vessel was completing the loading operations of various rolling units (cars, vans, trucks) when the fire started at deck n 10 which was attended by local stevedores and crew members. The crew of the vessel immediately activated the on-board fire suppression procedures while the local firefighting service were alerted, and their prompt response played a crucial role in containing and bringing the fire under control.

Sadly, during the firefighting operations, Grimaldi Deep Sea were informed that two firefighters lost their lives. All Company’s thoughts, prayers and sympathies are with their families and team currently. At this time, it is not known how the fire started but the Company will undertake a full investigation in close cooperation with all relevant authorities.”

The Port Newark Container Terminal, as the port is formally known, has a total area of around 272 acres, making it the largest container port on the East Coast.

The ATF, Coast Guard, Port Authority Police, and Essex County Prosecutor’s Office are all conducting inquiries.

According to sources, they are interrogating crew members but have not yet been able to determine the precise cause.

The ship’s smoke filled the sky all afternoon on Thursday.

Officials have started an investigation to determine how the incident was handled and whether a better approach would have been possible, even though investigators are still working to determine the cause.


Who was Augusto Acabou and Wayne Brooks?

According to Newark Fire Chief Rufus Jackson, Augusto Acabou was a member of Engine 16 in the North Ironbound neighbourhood of Newark.

Acabou passed away when he was 45 years old. He was assigned to Engine 16 in the East Ferry district and had served for nine years. His body was found by his cousin, a Newark firefighter. Captain Miguel Acabou of the Clark Police is his brother.

Wayne Brooks Jr., the second victim, was a firefighter.

The 49-year-old Wayne ‘Bears’ Brooks Jr., a 16-year veteran, was working on Ladder 4 in the South Ironbound district.

Those who knew Brooks praised his unrivalled dedication to duty. Because of this, according to retiring Battalion Fire Chief Matthew Cordasco, he hired him immediately after he graduated from the academy approximately 17 years ago.

Cordasco said.

You do get a reputation, I wanted him for my tour.”

Aside from his commitment to his work and contagious smile, he possessed a character that earned him the moniker “Bear.”

Outside Engine 16, a monument is expanding, and Ladder 4’s flag is flying at half-staff.

Acabou was the first of the two fatalities to pass away after the 12-story ship that was carrying about 5,000 vehicles at the time caught fire.

They worked at a red-brick firehouse on Ferry Street and were graduates of Engine 16 in Newark’s working-class, formerly Portuguese neighborhood, the Ironbound.


Condolence Messages

Condolences flooded in from all over the state earlier on Thursday morning as a procession for the firefighters moved from the port to a neighbouring hospital.

The FDNY tweeted: “The FDNY mourns with the Newark Fire Department after the loss of two Firefighters who were killed while bravely fighting a fire in the Port of Newark early this morning. Our hearts go out to the Newark Fire Department and the families of the two fallen Firefighters.”

In honour of the deceased men, flowers were placed in front of a fire station in Newark. (Source: nytimes)In honour of the deceased men, flowers were placed in front of a fire station in Newark. (Source: nytimes)

Capt. Zeita Merchant, commander of Coast Guard Sector New York and captain of Port of New York and New Jersey, in a statement: “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, 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.”


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