1 year later: Remembering the Port Newark cargo ship fire that killed 2 firefighters

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka released a statement on the one year anniversary of the cargo ship fire and said, "the memory will haunt us forever."

Jim Murdoch and Lanette Espy

Jul 5, 2024, 10:56 AM

Updated 14 days ago

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What began in the waning hours of July 5, 2023, carried over to the next morning – and days and days to come. A cargo ship packed with more than 1,000 vehicles burst into flames at Port Newark. Firefighters rushed on board, but two would never make it out alive.
Augusto “Auggie” Acabou and Wayne "Bear" Brooks Jr. both died battling the cargo ship fire. A lengthy investigation revealed the fire aboard the Grimaldi Grande Costa d'Avorio originated from a Jeep Wrangler used by crew members to push other vehicles on board.
As the beloved men were laid to rest, their loved ones grieved and pushed for answers.
In the wake of the tragedy, lawsuits were filed, hearings were held and there was a determination to find out – why.
Acabou and Brooks were both promoted to the rank of captain following the tragedy.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka released a statement on the one year anniversary of the cargo ship fire and said, "the memory will haunt us forever."
“Today marks one year since we lost Newark Fire Captains Augusto Acabou and Wayne Brooks, Jr., who gave their lives in the line of duty while battling a massive fire aboard the cargo ship Grande Costa D’Avorio in Port Newark," Baraka said. "Having watched their bodies lowered from the ship that night, I know that neither their commanders, their colleagues, nor I will never be the same. The memory will haunt us forever. But if we grieve, how much more painful is their loss to their beloved family and friends. The depth of their sorrow is beyond imagination."
Baraka's statement continued, "As desperately as we yearn to turn back time and return these men to their families and firehouse, we must cling to an ironclad resolve never to allow such a tragedy again…here, or anywhere. Our determination to reach that goal is matched only by the brilliance of how ‘Augie’ and ‘Bear’ inspired all of us to become the best version of ourselves: to live a life fueled by love, and leave kindness and compassion in our wake.”

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