A fire that involved containers loaded with hazardous materials onboard a cargo vessel appears to be under control. The incident took place off the coast of Vancouver Island. However, the search activity to locate 40 containers that had fallen overboard got hampered by a storm.
No injuries were reported. However, 16 crew members had been taken off the ship, Zim Kingston. Five crew members stayed on board to help put off the fire.
JJ Brickett, the federal incident commander for the Canadian Coast Guard, said fire fighting tugs were posted around the vessel to contain the fire to prevent it from spreading to the other side of the vessel. No charring or scorching of adjacent containers was observed. That is a good sign.
The fire was caused by potassium amyl xanthate, a highly combustible chemical in powder form. It is generally used in the mining sector. The chemical had leaked from the containers destroyed in a storm that came on Friday just when the Zim Kingston was about to reach the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Of 40 containers that had fallen into the ocean, two were loaded with chemical powder. The remaining was on the deck and caught fire.
Officials kept working on Sunday to locate the containers that had fallen into the ocean. It is not evident yet what the impact on the environment might be. The Ministry of Environment, Canadian Coast Guard officials, and First Nations of Vancouver Island are working together to assess the outcome.
Everything that came in the containers and had caught fire ended up burning. The Canadian Coast Guard reported that nearly 10 containers that were onboard the ship had caught fire, but it is difficult to know the exact number.
The crew members onboard the vessel and officials onshore were constantly monitoring the ship during the storm on Sunday afternoon. It is not likely that the ship can move, but if the anchor does, there are salvage tugs around, so the tow may be quick.
The fire on the #ZimKingston has been stabilized. Depending on weather tomorrow, hazardous materials firefighters will board the ship to fight any remaining fires and ensure the fire is out. pic.twitter.com/IKIhY5Ayrm
— Canadian Coast Guard (@CoastGuardCAN) October 24, 2021