Boxship catches fire following container loss off British Columbia
Canadian and US authorities have deployed vessels and other assets in response to an incident wherein a containership caught fire following the loss of some of its cargo in the waters off Victoria, British Columbia.
The fire on the Maltese-flagged containership ZIM Kingston ignited shortly after 11:00 local time on Saturday, October 23, while the vessel was at anchor some eight kilometres off Victoria.
The blaze reportedly originated in two containers laden with hazardous materials and quickly spread to the other containers on the deck.
The Canadian and US Coast Guard deployed vessels to assist in the firefighting effort and to evacuate the containership’s 21-strong crew. Sixteen crewmembers have so far been rescued while the remaining five personnel have opted to remain on board to monitor firefighting operations.
The Canadian Coast Guard said that the fire has become “stabilised” as of Sunday, October 24, with the blaze being isolated to a small portion of the forward deck. However, rain and wind gusts are continuing to hamper the firefighting effort.
The incident on ZIM Kingston began shortly after its crew reported that heavy listing had caused more than 30 containers to fall overboard while the ship was en route to Vancouver. The US Coast Guard said that the containers were last sighted drifting northwards.
Recovery of the lost containers will commence once weather conditions in the area improve. Canadian authorities said that the First Nations communities along the coast have been requested to assist in the recovery effort.
A number of Good Samaritan vessels are also assisting in the firefighting and rescue effort on ZIM Kingston. These include firefighting tugs from various local operators and the Maersk Supply Service supply vessels Maersk Tender and Maersk Trader.