Jeep with mechanical problems sparked deadly Newark cargo ship blaze, attorneys say

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Friday, October 6, 2023
Faulty Jeep sparked deadly Newark cargo ship blaze: Attorneys
Attorneys provided an update Friday on the cargo ship fire that killed two firefighters at Port Newark in July. Anthony Johnson has the story.

PORT NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- Attorneys provided an update Friday on the cargo ship fire that killed two firefighters at Port Newark in July as their families are still seeking answers and struggling with the loss.

The lawyers, representing the families of Newark firefighters Augusto "Augie" Acabou, 45, and Wayne "Bear" Brooks Jr., 49, said an investigation revealed the fire was sparked by a Jeep Wrangler onboard the ship.

The Jeep, which was being used to load the ship on July 5th, had mechanical problems that caused it to burst into flames.

"Despite that those men continued to use that Jeep Wrangler until it started a blaze," said attorney Mark Apostolos

The fire spread quickly through the ship. And, the attorneys said, the fire teams already on board failed to stop the fire.

"The thing that the investigation has uncovered is that the ship's crew actually has two firefighting teams aboard," Apostolos said. "And both of those firefighting teams failed in multiple different ways to put this fire out before those firefighters entered into that fire."

Authorities have said responding firefighters found five to seven vehicles already on fire when they reached the 10th floor of the cargo ship.

The blaze quickly extended to the 11th and 12th floors, and as firefighters were pushed back by the intense heat, firefighters Acabou and Brooks were killed.

Five other firefighters were injured.

Friday would have been Acabou's 46th birthday.

"We want to prevent future occurrences like this to happen so no other families are to suffer just as we are, and we will forever suffer," Acabou's brother Miguel Acabou said.

The City of Newark is also getting a notice of claim because Acabou and Brooks were never trained to fight a cargo ship fire.

Mayor Ras J. Baraka released the following statement:

"I know the families of our two fallen Newark Firefighters, Augusto Acabou and Wayne Brooks, Jr., want and need answers and resolutions so that they can make some kind of sense out of their loss. The city wants the same thing. We trust that the investigators are completing their process as quickly and expeditiously as possible while maintaining the integrity of their examination and analysis. It's my deep hope that this investigation will yield the information the families need for healing, and that the answers will benefit all firefighters in Newark, and everywhere."

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