The blaze that killed two firefighters aboard an Italian cargo ship in Port Newark, NJ, last week has finally been extinguished, officials said Tuesday.
More than five days after the fire erupted on deck 10 of the Grand Costa d’Ivorio, a marine chemist has determined there is no longer any danger of it igniting again, officials said.
“We can officially declare that the fire is out,” said Capt. Zeita Merchant, commander of the Coast Guard’s New York sector. The operation has become a rescue effort that will take one to two months to complete, Captain Merchant said at a news conference next to the ship.
While private contractors develop a rescue plan, an investigation into the cause of the fire and why it was so difficult to extinguish will continue, Capt. Merchant said. “We don’t know right now where the ship is going,” she said, but it will likely have to be towed away from its location in the harbor.
Firefighters and other responders have been working to suppress the blaze since Wednesday night, pumping water from Newark Bay onto the towering ship and its cargo of 1,200 vehicles. The persistence of the fire led to speculation that some of the cars on board were electric cars with lithium-ion batteries.
But Beth Rooney, the port director, said the ship’s manifest indicated there were no electric vehicles on board. She said the ship was carrying new electric vehicles to Baltimore before arriving in Newark, where it picked up a load of “previously owned vehicles” bound for West Africa. It was to sail to Providence, RI, for more used cars after leaving Newark, she said.
Ms Rooney said there were “no known water quality issues” or other significant environmental impacts as a result of the fire or the efforts to put it out. There were no visible odors on the dock Tuesday morning.
The port, one of the busiest in the nation, resumed normal operations on Monday. Officials were concerned that the efforts to extinguish the fire may have caused the ship to capsize, but it remained afloat.
The fire erupted just before 9:30 pm on Wednesday on the 10th deck of the ship and spread rapidly to two upper decks. Two Newark firefighters, Augusto Acabou, 45, and Wayne Brooks Jr., 49, died trying to knock down the fire. Funeral services for the men will be this week at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark.