Containers catch fire on ship near Victoria, same ship lost about 40 containers off Washington coast

Oct 22, 2021, 3:41 PM | Updated: Oct 24, 2021, 8:14 am
Some of the located containers, captured by the US Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles helicopter....
Some of the located containers, captured by the US Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles helicopter. (Photo courtesy of USCG Pacific Northwest/Twitter)
(Photo courtesy of USCG Pacific Northwest/Twitter)

Most of the crew of a cargo ship anchored near Victoria, B.C., Canada, was evacuated Saturday after containers on the ship caught fire, the Canadian Coast Guard said.

The ship, the MV Zim Kingston, is the same vessel that lost about 40 shipping containers 43 miles west of the Strait of Juan de Fuca during rough seas on Thursday, according to the United States Coast Guard.

The ship is currently anchored about 5 miles offshore.

The flames that broke around 11 a.m. Saturday were related to two damaged containers carrying hazardous materials used in mining, class 4.2 of Xanthates (Potassium Amylxanthate).

As of late Saturday night, Canadian Coast Guard officials said 10 containers were on fire and the flames were continuing to spread, but the ship itself was not on fire.

Sixteen of the ship’s crew members were taken to Victoria’s Ogden Point by the Coast Guard on Saturday night. Five crew members remain on board to fight the fire.

The Canadian Coast Guard deployed a boat and a helicopter to assess the condition of the ship. A Coast Guard patrol vessel and a tug will remain at the site to monitor the situation overnight.

An emergency zone has been set up for one nautical mile around the ship and mariners have been advised to stay out of the area.

Coast Guard officials said in a news release that there is no safety risk to people on shore, but the situation is being monitored.

On Friday, the inbound ship listed to its side due to rough seas and lost the containers over the side.

A helicopter was deployed from Port Angeles and only spotted eight containers. Later, it was reported that 35 containers had been observed floating and are being monitored.

“The helicopter put down a beacon so we can keep an eye on (the containers) and also let other vessels know to stay away from that area,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier.

The U.S. Coast Guard said it stopped in Victoria after the incident so crews could take an inventory.

Coast Guards from the U.S. and Canada are jointly monitoring the containers.

Strohmaier said because of the incoming storm, five container ships waiting off the Washington coast for dock space to free up in Puget Sound had come to the Strait of Juan de Fuca to seek relative shelter and were essentially “doing laps” between Neah Bay and Port Angeles. Strohmaier said another five vessels were expected to do the same.

The backlog at West Coast ports means more ships are drifting off the coast or anchored in Puget Sound. Strohmaier said 15 vessels were anchored Friday, and would be required to turn on their engines if a gale warning is issued so they don’t drag anchor.

Those ships also have Coast Guard GPS monitors aboard.

“If they start to drift out of those circles, we can tell them, engage your engines, deploy a second anchor, whatever, to get back in that parking spot,” Strohmaier said.

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Containers catch fire on ship near Victoria, same ship lost about 40 containers off Washington coast