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Fire on cargo ship off Victoria’s shore leads to crew evacuation as 40 containers fall overboard

Five crew members remained on the MV Zim Kingston to fight the fire as of Saturday night
Smoke coming off MV Zim Kingston vessel can be seen from Victoria. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

Several crew members were evacuated from the cargo ship off Victoria’s shore that had shipping containers aboard – some containing hazardous materials – that were still on fire going into Sunday (Oct. 24).

The same vessel had 40 containers fall off of it west of Vancouver Island on Friday.

The Canadian Coast Guard told Black Press Media that around 11 a.m. on Saturday, they received a report that a fire had broken out in damaged shipping containers aboard the MV Zim Kingston. The vessel is currently anchored in Constance Bank and could be seen – with smoke rising from it – from Victoria’s shore on Saturday afternoon.

The Coast Guard said 10 containers are currently on fire aboard the ship, including two holding 52,080 kilograms of xanthates (Potassium Amylxanthate), which the Guard called hazardous materials. Two Coast Guard boats evacuated 16 crew members from the ship for their safety and the safety of responders. Those crew members were taken to Ogden Point.

An Incident Command Post has been set up to manage the situation as the fire remained a “dynamic event” as of 11 p.m, but the ship itself was not on fire at that time. A late-Saturday statement from the Command Post said five crew members are still on the ship and fighting the fire. There’s currently no safety risk to people on shore, but the situation will continue to be monitored, the statement said.

A navigational warning said an exclusion zone of one mile of the ship has been established, that “the ship is on fire and expelling toxic gas” and “two fallen containers are floating in the vicinity of the vessel.” An earlier warning notified other ships that an exclusion zone of half a nautical mile was in effect around the Zim Kingston due to the danger of falling containers.

The United States Coast Guard on Friday afternoon said crews were monitoring about 40 adrift shipping containers west of the Strait of Juan de Fuca’s entrance after they had fallen off the vessel. The containers fell when the ship listed to its side due to rough seas, the U.S. Guard said. In an update a few hours later, 35 of the containers had been located. A helicopter from the Coast Guard’s Port Angeles air station located and captured images of the containers in the water on Friday evening.

The U.S. Coast Guard on Saturday was tracking the original 40 containers that plunged into the water. The containers are approximately 12 nautical miles off the west coast of Vancouver Island, near Bamfield, the Command Post statement said. The weather on Sunday could make the recovery effort challenging, it added.

The ship’s owner has contracted Resolve Marine Group for salvage operations, including fire fighting and recovering the containers.

“Resolve Marine has mobilized two vessels that were currently local, the Maersk Tender and Maersk Trader, which have been contracted as part of the response. Crews are expected to be on site on Sunday. A hazmat crew from Vancouver is also mobilizing,” the statement said.

READ: Warning issued after 40 shipping containers lost overboard in Strait of Juan de Fuca

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About the Author: Greater Victoria News Staff

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