Newark, NJ — deadlyIt was still burning Friday, almost two days after it started, and officials expect it to last at least two more days.
Around 8 a.m., loud noises signaled cars and more black smoke began to fill the skyOnce again they were on fire.
Multiple agencies and environmental experts are on scene to ensure first responders, port workers and nearby residents are safe.
FiremanThey died in the inferno on Wednesday after the fire on the ship first started on the 10th floor and burned through several levels. Five other firefighters were injured and sources told CBS New York that other first responders suffered from smoke inhalation.
“Newark firefighters will forever be etched in the history of the city, the history of public safety and the history of the fire department. Lost but not forgotten,” said Newark Public Safety Director Fritz Frege.
Commanders at the scene said the fire was still very challenging.
“Access is difficult. The heat is intense. It’s a steel box, so it’s a very complicated situation and you need a good plan to put firefighters on board to fight this fire. It’s very hot, so the burning decks and burning cars right now are inaccessible to our fire crews, so The best-case scenario is to cool the vessel from the periphery,” said Gordon Lorenzen, Project Manager, Danjon Marine Co.
“Rescue and especially firefighting on board a ship is a very complex operation, and responders must consider long-term firefighting efforts, damage and ship discretion, and environmental impacts,” said Coast Guard Capt. Jayda Merchant.
See: US Coast Guard Friday Update
The combined command, which includes the Port Authority, the Newark Fire Department and the ship’s representative, Gallagher Marine Systems, is jointly tackling the project for the coming days.
They are spraying water from the ship to the boat. But officials are worried the excess water could tip the ship, so extra crews are pumping out water and drilling holes to allow the water to drain out.
“The safety of our responders is our top priority when officially extinguishing a fire, and this requires careful coordination of our firefighters and the use of fire suppression mechanisms,” Merchant said.
During regular monitoring of water and air quality, ship representatives said they found sulfur dioxide readings above actionable levels overnight.
“They were found aft of the ship. We took steps to move the crew as needed, and then we brought the crew back into the area when those positions were safe,” said Tom Wicker of Gallagher Marine Systems.
Port Newark cargo ship fire
A task force is also monitoring environmental impacts.
“There is still no oil coming off the vessel. There were some unconfirmed reports of a sheen in the area yesterday morning, but we have verified with the drone and water level assessment that no sheen was noted,” Wicker said.
Officials say there are four fixed air monitoring devices near the ship and a mobile unit is being deployed around the port. So far, no major concerns.
Firefighters are trained several times a year in such situations, the port authority said. Newark has two ships in port.
“We don’t have a fire department within the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey,” said director Bethan Roone. “But as this investigation unfolds, everything is on the table for consideration.”
Several agencies are investigating the cause, but they can’t begin until it’s safe to board. That’s not possible until the fire is out and the ship cools down.
The Grimaldi Group, the ship’s operator, said the Grande Costa d’Avorio caught fire on Wednesday while cars, vans and trucks were being loaded. None of the vehicles are electric vehicles, they said.