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Press Release | July 6, 2023

Unified Command established for vessel fire in Newark, New Jersey


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PORT NEWARK, New Jersey – The Coast Guard, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Newark Fire Department, and Gallagher Marine Systems, the representative for the ship operator, have established a Unified Command in Port Newark, supported by a host of federal, state and local emergency response agencies. The Unified Command was established to continue its response to the fire aboard the cargo vessel Grande Costa D’Avorio, which caught fire Wednesday night around 9:30 PM.

The Unified Command’s operational priorities are ensuring the safety of the public and first responders, conducting fire suppression, protecting the environment, and ensuring any economic or operational activities in the port area are minimally affected.

Currently, firefighting crews are working to extinguish the fire, both from the pier, and from waterside. Crews are working to gain access to the upper decks of the vessel, which is believed to be the primary source of the ongoing fire.

Unfortunately, as of Thursday afternoon, there have been two fatalities and six injuries sustained due to responding to the fire aboard the vessel. Air quality monitoring is being conducted by the Newark Fire Department and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to ensure safe working conditions and public safety.

“On behalf of the Unified Command, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to the families and colleagues of the two firefighters who tragically lost their lives, and those injured during the response,” said Capt. Zeita Merchant, Captain of the Port of New York and Jersey. “We continue to work closely with our partner agencies and neighboring jurisdictions. Together, we are pooling our resources, expertise, and equipment to enhance the safety of all responders and maximize the effectiveness of our response efforts.”

The vessel was completing cargo operations of loading automobiles on to the vessel when the fire began. The crew of the vessel immediately activated the on- board fire suppression procedures while the local fire department was alerted.

The vessel is reportedly carrying 1,200 vehicles and 157 containers that were scheduled to be exported. There are reportedly no electric vehicles or hazardous cargo aboard.

At this time, the cause of the fire is under investigation. A formal investigation will be conducted to identify what caused the fire and all parties at the federal, state, and local levels as well as the owners are working closely together during this process.