Two firefighters die battling large cargo ship fire in New Jersey

Two firefighters die battling large cargo ship fire in New Jersey

Two New Jersey firefighters were killed after getting trapped while battling a fire on a cargo ship in Port Newark on Wednesday night, officials said.

Firefighters had responded to reports of a fire around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Newark Fire Division Chief Rufus Jackson said at a news conference.

When they arrived, they found the fire on the 10th floor of the cargo ship, which was docked by Corbin and Marsh streets, Jackson said. The fire quickly extended to the 11th and 12th floors, he said.

Firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze but were “pushed back out” due to the intensity of the heat. As they backed out, the two firefighters went missing, Jackson said.

A search effort was launched, but rescuers were unable to save them.

“The two individuals were removed from the structure. Unfortunately, we lost two members today,” Jackson said.

A number of rescue agencies had assisted with the search, Jackson said. The U.S. Coast Guard said it was among those who responded to the vessel fire.

Calling the incident a tragedy that would be traumatic for many, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said the fire was still not out at the time of the news conference.

He said around 5,000 vehicles had been on the cargo ship, emphasizing how large of a structure firefighters had to breach in the incident. “In the process, we had two calls for maydays,” he said.

“I saw the kind of acts of bravery and camaraderie today that’s unparalleled and you know, it’s very, very, very traumatic for all of us here in the city of Newark,” Baraka said.

The mayor said the identities of the firefighters killed in the blaze would not be released until the families had been notified.

“Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the loss of two Newark firefighters, who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement.

“This tragedy is a painful reminder of the dangers our firefighters face and their remarkable courage,” he said.

Chantal Da Silva

Chantal Da Silva is a breaking news editor for NBC News Digital based in London. 

Colin Sheeley

contributed

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