Fire on Grimaldi Conro Kills Two Local Firefighters in New Jersey

Grimaldi fire Newark
Fire was caught on the port TV camera (Twitter)

Published Jul 6, 2023 12:07 PM by The Maritime Executive

A fire broke out last night aboard a Grimaldi-owned conro docked at the Port of Newark, New Jersey, and while assisting in fighting the blaze two local firefighters were killed aboard the vessel. Five other local firefighters were taken to the hospital with heat exhaustion, smoke inhalation and minor injuries. Reports indicate that the fire has largely been extinguished although hot spots remain aboard the vessel that was loading vehicles while investigators search for the cause of the fire.

The fire was reported at 9:30 p.m. local time at Berth 18 in Port Newark. The ship’s crew activated the onboard fire suppression procedures and were being assisted by the stevedores while the local fire services were also notified. Crews from the Newark, New Jersey Fire Department were first on the scene.

The vessel is the Grande Costa d’Avorio, an Italian-flagged conro built in 2011. The vessel is 47,232 gross tons and 692 feet long. The ship had arrived in Newark on July 3 coming from Baltimore and is deployed on the North America-West Africa route operated by Grimaldi Deep Sea. The ship has a crew of 28.



The Newark Fire Department reported finding several cars on fire on deck 10 of the vessel. Reports indicated that the fire quickly spread to decks 11 and 12.

“The firefighters made an attempt to extinguish the fire and, because of the intense heat, they got pushed back out of the area where the initial fire was,” explained Newark Fire Chief Rufus Jackson in a press briefing. 

While retreating from the fire, two members of the Newark Fire Department became separated from the rest of the team and were lost inside the vessel. The fire department searched the vessel locating the bodies of the two fallen firefighters who were rushed to local hospitals. They were pronounced dead at the hospital.

Aboard the vessel, they continued to fight the fire. At 11:17 p.m. a second alarm was announced and fire departments from neighboring cities responded. TV news pictures also show fireboats alongside pumping water on to the vessel. Reports are that burnt-out cars can be seen on the outer deck with smoke still coming from the vessel on Thursday, July 6.

Grimaldi reports the vessel was completing the loading of cars, vans, and trucks when the fire was discovered. They are saying there were over 1,200 new and secondhand vehicles aboard, but no electric vehicles. Grimaldi also believes there is no hazardous cargo aboard.



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Local fire officials are saying as of Thursday morning the bulk of the fire has been extinguished aboard the vessel. The U.S. Coast Guard is reporting that no crew was injured and so far, there is no oil pollution from the ship. Grimaldi confirms that so far, no fuel leaks have been detected and reports the stability of the ship does not appear to be compromised.

The vessel is a unique design that has fallen out of favor with most shipping companies. It is a Ro/Ro designed to handle both vehicles and containers. In addition to the 1,200 vehicles aboard, Grimaldi is reporting the ship is currently loaded with 157 containers. Grimaldi continues to build and operate conros along with only two other shipping companies.