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‘We tried our best to extinguish the fire.’ Port Newark fire panels hears testimony from crew members

The panel on Thursday heard testimony from crew members of ship that was docked in Port Newark on July 5.

Chris Keating

Jan 11, 2024, 10:29 PM

Updated 162 days ago

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A hearing continued Thursday into the cargo ship fire that took the lives of two Newark firefighters in July. The United States Coast Guard is hosting the inquiry.
The panel on Thursday heard testimony from crew members of that Italian ship that was docked in Port Newark - the chief officer, the captain of the Grande Coste D’Avorio and an employee of Ports America testified.
The general manager for Ports America revealed that he had suggested to the ship owner weeks before the fire that pusher vehicles were not safe for his drivers to use when putting disabled cars on the ship.
“We were trying to switch from pushing to towing using tow trucks instead of using vehicles to push other vehicles,” Jorge Tabadoa, GM for Ports America said.
Chief Officer Benito LaFauci spoke emotionally about desperately trying to put out the fire that would take the lives of firefighters Wayne Brooks and Augusto Acabou. At one point, he spoke directly to the relatives of the two victims.
“On behalf of myself, Grimaldi and my crew, we are broken that two brave firefighters lost their lives on board,” LaFauci said. “We tried our best to extinguish the fire.”
LaFauci also explained how a third weather-tight-door, designed to segregate the fire, could not be closed because of intense flames and smoke.
The families of Brooks and Acabou are suing ship owner Grimaldi, along with the city of Newark and Ports America. The families argue the fire was preventable.
The hearing is also being attended by attorneys with Grimaldi, the city Newark and Ports America, as they are asking questions that might deflect any liability.
The hearing will continue Friday with testimony from the ATF agent who investigated the fire.


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