Two firefighters killed battling cargo ship fire at New Jersey port


(Reuters) -Two New Jersey firefighters were killed while battling an intense blaze on a cargo ship docked at Port Newark, officials said on Thursday, and TV footage showed some smoke continuing to billow from the vessel.

The Italian ship named Grande Costa d’Avorio was carrying new and used vehicles when a fire broke out on its 10th deck at about 10:30 p.m. EST (0330 GMT) on Wednesday, vessel operator Grimaldi Deep Sea said in a statement.

Firefighters with the Newark Fire Department responded to the fire that quickly spread to the 11th and 12th levels of the ship, Newark Fire Chief Rufus Jackson told reporters.

Firefighters attacked the fire but were pushed back by the intense heat, he said.

“Two firefighters were lost while backing out. Searches were initially made to recover the two firefighters and we were unable to do so,” he said, adding that numerous rescue crews were called to the scene.

The bodies of the two firefighters, who have not been identified, were recovered, Jackson said.

Aerial footage carried by ABC News showed a firefighting vessel dousing an upper floor of the cargo ship with water. CBS News, citing a public safety spokesperson, said much of the blaze had been extinguished but crews were still working to get it under control.

Port Newark, near New York City, is part of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is among the largest in the United States and one of the busiest on the U.S. Eastern seaboard.

“This is not a common fire for the city of Newark and the Newark firefighters,” Jackson said. “It’s a different type of fire, and they’re still willing to put themselves on the line.”

It was unclear how the fire started, Grimaldi Deep Sea said, adding that no fuel spill has been detected at sea and the stability of the ship does not appear to be compromised.

The ship, which had 28 crew members aboard, was carrying cars, vans and rolling equipment as well as 157 containers. There were no electric cars or hazardous cargo aboard, the company said.

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Mark Porter)

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