Fire breaks out on cargo ship after dozens of shipping containers lost

The fire which broke out aboard the MV Zim Kingston, two days after an estimated 35-40 containers broke free during rough weather west of Vancouver Island, now appears to be under control.

The Canadian coast guard says that the ten containers which were on fire, including two carrying over 52,000 kgs of Potassium Amylxanthate, which is a hazardous material used in mining, are now smouldering.

Sixteen crew members were evacuated from the MV Zim Kingston on Saturday, while five remained onboard to fight the fire.

Tug boats had sprayed water around the area of the fire to keep it from spreading, and a helicopter flyover on Sunday gathered evidence that this has worked.

“We can’t see any scorching or charring of those adjacent containers, that’s a really good sign,” Canadian Coast Guard commander JJ Brickett told Reuters. “The fire is smouldering as you would expect, and we’re continuing to cool on either side.”

The ship is now anchored several kilometres off the southern coast of Vancouver Island. Residents of the island are not in danger, officials say.

All vessels have been told to stay at least two nautical miles away, and the Transport Ministry has restricted all aircraft, including drones, from flying within two nautical miles or below 2,000 feet over the ship.

The fire “appears to have been contained,” and a salvage and fire extinguishing agency was brought in to ensure the safe return of the vessel’s crew, Danaos Shipping Co, who manages the containership, says.

The incident comes as more bad weather is expected to hit the area. The ship is expected to weather the storm from its anchor, but tug boats are standing by and monitoring in case the ship moves.

Canada’s coast guard said it has been working with its US counterpart to track 40 containers that had fallen overboard, saying they posed a significant risk to mariners.

The coast guard is still tracking these containers, which are to be recovered by the salvage company hired by the ship’s owners. At the moment none of them seem to be drifting toward shore.

Images courtesy of Canadian Coast Guard.

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