Fire Contained on Cargo Ship Off Victoria, B.C., and the Hunt Is on for 40 Containers That Went Overboard

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The fire on a large cargo ship anchored about 5 miles off Victoria, British Columbia, that started on Saturday was all but controlled on Sunday.

No injuries were reported, and 16 crew members were taken off the Zim Kingston, Canadian Coast Guard officials said in a news conference Sunday. Five crew members remained onboard to help fight the fire.

Firefighting tugs were posted around the vessel and were containing the fire to prevent it from spreading to the rest of the cargo ship, said JJ Brickett, federal incident commander for the Canadian Coast Guard.

"We can't see any scorching or charing of those adjacent containers. That's a really good sign," Brickett said.

The fire was caused by a combustible chemical powder, potassium amyl xanthate, that's widely used in the mining industry, officials said. The chemical spilled from containers that were damaged in a storm Friday as the Zim Kingston was approaching the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Out of the 40 containers that fell into the Pacific Ocean, two contained the chemical powder. The others remained on deck and started the fire.

Officials were working Sunday to find the containers that fell into the ocean. It's unclear what the environmental impacts will be. Canadian Coast Guard officials are working with the Ministry of Environment and First Nations of Vancouver Island to assess the effects.

Everything in the containers that caught fire has burned, Brickett said. The Canadian Coast Guard reported that about 10 containers on the cargo ship caught fire, but it's difficult to know an exact number, he said.

The crew members on the ship and officials on the shore were monitoring the ship through Sunday afternoon's storm. It's "unlikely" the ship will move, but in the event the anchor does move there are numerous salvage tugs around so the tow can be quick, Brickett said.

Resolve Marine, an emergency response and salvage company, has been hired by Danaos Shipping Co., the owner of the Zim Kingston, to continue fighting the fire and to salvage missing cargo off the West Coast of Vancouver Island, Brickett said. Under Canadian law, the owner of the vessel is responsible for response and salvage costs.

Brickett said Danaos has been responsive and has been following typical protocol, like hiring the salvage company.

"Danaos has been working in close cooperation with the local port authorities from the very first, committed to following all actions necessary to mitigate the consequences of the incident," according to a statement on the company's website.

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