A freighter was burning in waters south of Victoria on Saturday, hours after the ship dropped 40 shipping containers in the ocean west of Vancouver Island.
The Coast Guard was notified of the fire aboard the Zim Kingston around 11 a.m. Saturday.
Ten crew members were rescued from the ship before 6 p.m. while six more were removed about an hour later, leaving five crew members on board overnight, according to a spokesperson for the Joint Operations Coordination Center. rescue center in Victoria.
“The crew are assembled near their own lifeboats, but the captain has yet to call to abandon ship,” said JRCC spokeswoman Lt. Pamela Hogan.
No injuries were reported on Saturday evening.
The fire was started inside two containers which were damaged when the ship was rocked by the rising waters on Friday afternoon, according to the coast guard.
“The team tried to get it out earlier today, but they couldn’t do it on their own,” Hogan said.
The Maltese-flagged ship was heading for Vancouver when it tilted sideways, dropping the containers into the ocean near the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The Coast Guard was notified of the fire aboard the Zim Kingston around 11 a.m. Saturday. (CTV News)
“The situation is changing,” Coast Guard spokeswoman Michelle Imbeau said on Saturday evening. “The Coast Guard made sure life and limbs were OK. “
Two Coast Guard vessels and an auxiliary firefighting vessel monitor the vessel and its cargo on fire. Flames and thick smoke were visible from Victoria’s shore throughout the day.
“When the crew has evacuated, when there is no one else on the ship, they will start fighting the fires by the ocean,” Hogan said.
The Canadian and United States Coast Guards have warned mariners to stay clear of the Zim Kingston due to the danger of smoke and falling cargo.
A Transport Canada surveillance plane surrounded the smoldering vessel for much of the day on Saturday.
The containers were adrift about 69 kilometers west of Vancouver Island shortly before 3 p.m. Friday, US officials said. (USCG)
The US Coast Guard Navigation Center sent a broadcast to sailors on Friday afternoon warning that lost shipping containers could be partially submerged and hardly visible from the ocean surface.
“Mariners should exercise extreme caution” when passing through the region, the center warned.
The Canadian Coast Guard also posted a notice on NavWarn about debris drifting about 69 kilometers west of Vancouver Island.
Eight of the lost containers had been located Friday evening, according to a spokesperson for the 13th District of the United States Coast Guard in Seattle, Washington.
At least two of the lost containers contain hazardous materials that could ignite spontaneously, the spokesperson said.
The Tofino District warned bathers to “use extreme caution” because of the drifting containers over the weekend, claiming on its Twitter account that the coast guard was monitoring containers off the west side of the island.
“Some of these containers contain hazardous materials,” the district said. “If you are spotted, avoid and stay away. ”